50/50 is a touching movie about facing life after a cancer diagnosis. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a young man whose world is turned upside down when a doctor finds a tumor on his spine. Suddenly a backache becomes a major life changing event. Seth Rogen plays Kyle, Adam's best friend who stands beside him through thick and thin. This movie showcases the journey Adam takes to hopefully overcome this diagnosis and live while examining the many relationships in his life, including that with his mother, his girlfriend, his best friend and his therapist. Through his various relationships the audience finds themselves asking themselves how they would deal with this situation. This movie does a great job of portraying the heart-breaking reality of life with cancer while blending in comedy to not only lighten the mood but show that life doesn't end during the battle.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a remarkable job of portraying the many stages of coping: denial, acceptance, anger and more. There were scenes that sent chills down my arms and, of course, made me cry. He was completely realistic as he portrayed Adam's slow fall from comedic denial into half-hearted comedic acceptance and finally defeated acceptance. This fall can be seen from the change in Adam from when he shaves his head, because his hair will just fall out anyway, to him screaming at the people who actually stood by him. As the character weakens Gordon-Levitt's portrayal only strengthens.
Seth Rogen surprised me in this role. I have become accustomed to seeing him play a giant goof-ball. In this film he still provided comic relief but with more depth and heart than I have ever seen from him. Rogen was still his funny self but he shows a softer side in some parts that I really appreciated. Rogen also served as a producer on the film, which was written by one of his best friends Will Reiser.
Reiser wrote the script and based it off of his real-life battle with cancer, a battle that Rogen helped him overcome. This project was clearly close to both of their hearts as you can tell by the emotional impact the script and acting provides. Reiser is now a six year cancer survivor but the script was part of his recovery process and he faced a lot of his feelings of bitterness and anger as he wrote the script (see link at bottom for an article on Reiser). That anger is seen through Adam though comedy tinges his situations, much like experiences Reiser experienced in his life. Reiser's battle is reflected in Adam though some experiences have been altered.
Director Jonathon Levine (The Wackness) shows great strides with this film as he tackles a very serious subject while maintaining the humor life brings. I have seen him show depth before but I believe this film has brought him to a new level. There are many scenes were the camera work is as powerful as the acting and only elevates the intensity of the film.
I obviously can't say much about the ending but the point of this movie is to follow Adam's fight and that fight is a courageous, realistic story that all adult audiences will appreciate.
If you want a straight comedy, wait to see this film. If you want to see a film with power, heart and one that has you on edge, waiting for results like Adam does, then this film is for you. Don't be put off by the serious topic of this movie, it contains plenty of humor and light-hearted antics to provide a great balance of laughter and drama. I highly suggest everyone go see it.
Movie Rating- No sugar needed to sweeten this review.
A story of friends, co-starring cancer