50/50 (2011) – Film Review


Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick

Directed by Jonathan Levine, written by Will Reiser

IMDB Rating: 7.8

A simple story but a delicate issue – this is a film that looks simple on the outside, but gets the audience thinking inwardly.

Adam (Gordon-Levitt) is a normal 27 year old, with a job at a local radio station, a best friend (Rogen) and a girlfriend. But his world is put into perspective when he is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He is told he has a 50/50 chance of survival, testing not only his will but the will of the people around him.

This is a relatively basic story in terms of substance, it’s how it goes into deep detail that makes it different from other 90 minute (or so) films. The fact that it takes a sensitive issue such as cancer and turns it into an almost feel good story, without it being a black comedy, is quite something. Thankfully I’ve been relatively unaffected by cancer in my life, but this film makes me wonder not only how I would react if I got cancer, but how my mum would react, or my friends. Also it makes me wonder how I would react if one of my friends got cancer – These are some of the questions you end up asking yourself as you watch 50/50. One big reason for this is the realism of the film. Not just the people but the shots and the locations – everything seems like it could happen to any one of us, and that makes you put yourself in their shoes.

In terms of acting performances the two leads, Gordon-Levitt and Rogen, both gave very solid and real performances. However, it’s the trainee therapist Katherine, played by Anna Kendrick, that stole the show. She gets the feel for the character perfectly, the inexperienced and awkward trainee that ends up being more of a salvation for Adam than he expected at the start. I’ve seen Kendrick play other roles (albeit not very big roles) and this has to be the best performance I’ve ever seen her give.

The realism with which this film is shot by Jonathan Levine is what makes it the success that it is. 50/50 doesn’t try to over dramatize the issue like it easily could have done. It keeps the film relatively stable and level footed from beginning to end, with Adam only really starting to lose it at the end of the film.

This is a film that makes the regular viewer feel like a film buff – because it’s as much about what’s happening on the screen as what’s happening in the viewers own head. The shorter run time also makes it more accessible, and I recommend anyone that wants to become a film geek starts of with this film!

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