After Marshall Brickman and Woody Allen co-scripted the comedic blockbusters Annie Hall and Manhattan, Brickman made his mark as a solo writer-director with three radically different efforts: Simon (1980), Lovesick (1983) and The Manhattan Project (1986). All are acquired tastes; Lovesick is easily the weakest link in the chain. While by no means a total disaster, the picture eventually falls apart and loses its way. This is doubly frustrating since the first half plays so smoothly. As Dr. Saul Benjamin, a downbeat psychiatrist whose ennui gets alleviated by an ethereally beautiful young patient named Chloe (Elizabeth McGovern), Dudley Moore delivers a fine, modulated performance, and the chemistry between Moore and McGovern hits so far off the charts, one wishes they had become a regular screen couple, despite the 20-year+ age difference. In 1983, reviewers such as Roger Ebert lamented the Play it Again, Sam-like fantasy walk-ons by Alec Guinness as Sigmund Freud, but such complaints seem off target. The Freud sequences don't feel particularly injurious to the material, and even help bolster the central idea of Saul attempting to overcome his initial psychological reservations about experiencing reciprocal love with a patient and dating her. At least in the beginning, the picture sustains a low-key rapture - it's slight but whimsical and guilelessly romantic, and it whisks us along in its current.
The movie goes off the rails, though, once Saul and Chloe fall into each other's arms. instead of moving into the relationship and exploring its nuances, Brickman shifts his emphasis to an absurd subplot involving Dr. Benjamin's review by a psychiatric committee. The members, it turns out, want to disbar him after learning of the affair. This makes no logical sense (the doctor and patient end their professional relationship once dating begins) and provides an irritating narrative distraction. The film soon begins to drift all over the place, and the relationship in which we've grown emotionally invested gets relegated to a footnote. The result is a dispiriting movie that feels half-baked and falls far short of its potential.