[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00AC7PJH0][/pullquote] 50/50 is a comedy drama that focuses on Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a 27-year-old man who works with his friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) at a radio station. After complaining of back pain, he is diagnosed, out of the blue, with cancer. The film then follows his life throughout treatment and how Kyle, his mother Diane (Anjelica Huston), therapist Katie (Anna Kendrick) and girlfriend Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard) all cope with the news.
The exploration of how he, his friends, family and girlfriend all deal with news of Adam’s diagnosis is the heart of the film. None of the reactions are clichÃ©d or depressing as the film takes the idea of how people’s lives are turned upsidedown by news of this magnitude and leaves it bubbling away beneath the surface. The characters know that it’s a bad situation as much as the audience, but director Jonathan Levine and writer Will Reiser never let it overwhelm. There must have been a temptation to make 50/50 a real emotionally manipulative film, especially with the material it’s dealing with, however, like Adam himself the film is not afraid to have fun and create a very realistic and pragmatic approach to the topic of cancer.
The cast are superb, with Gordon-Levitt, especially impressing. His character is an amalgamation of various film stereotypes, being as he is; Romantic lead, tough victim, ˜straight man’ to Rogen’s Kyle and unappreciative son to Huston’s outstanding mother figure. Without a powerful performance at its core, 50/50 would not work, but Gordon-Levitt, more than any actor in Hollywood at the moment, can play all of those parts and does with aplomb. A note on Seth Rogen, who does his normal Seth Rogen performance, of wise-cracking slacker: While this act has been seen many times before, never has it been more poignant and perfectly pitched within a script. He is loyal, loveable, rude and hilarious in equal measure and acts as the perfect antithesis of the underlying threat of the cancer.
Throughout 50/50, just as you think you know the traditional responses to each situation within the confines of film-making, the narrative throws you a curve-ball, which in retrospect, makes perfect sense and highlights just how overblown and melodramatic other films of this type can be. The soundtrack is also fantastic. It deftly walks the line between hard-hitting drama and hilarious comedy, 50/50 is one of the most original and touching films of the year.