Wednesday, 1 August 2012

50/50 (2011)

There aren't a lot of ways that you can describe 50/50 concisely and not paint everyone involved as a bit of an arsehole. 50/50 is a comedy drama. It's a comedy drama, about a man who gets cancer.

Now, bear with me. Seth Rogan describes it best having said "Most films about cancer try to avoid the fact that sometimes funny things just happen. We didn't add humour to something that isn't funny, I'm not saying every cancer story is funny, but ours was a mix of tragic and funny". And he should know: Rogan takes on the role of Adam (the patient)'s best friend, a role that he had in the real of the writer, Will Reiser, when he had cancer. The film isn't what happened to the pair, but is "indicative of the sort of journey we went on".

With that behind him, Seth Rogan essentially plays a part that he actually lived himself for a long time. A real sense of weight and authenticity shines through in the scenes with Rogan, even when he's kind of taking advantage of his friend's condition you get the sense that he really, genuinely loves his friend and would ultimately be lost without him.

But of course, the real star here is Joseph Gordon Levitt. Recently he's fallen into an action style, suave operator kind of niche (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, the upcoming Looper) but in 50/50 you get the more personable 500 Days of Summer JGL. Running the full gauntlet of emotions, from worrying about everyone around him through anger and frustration on to soul crushing fear,Gordon Levitt's Adam is fantastic. He's a character that takes you on an emotional journey that doesn't feel fake or constructed.

50/50 is billed as a comedy drama but really the comedy element that is there had to be included, because when this film hits the emotional notes, it hits like a fucking freight train. Small things like finding a book in someone's apartment or just asking a family member how they're doing are elevated to moments that encapsulate an entire relationship in a glance or a hug. Thankfully, I've never experienced the effects of cancer on myself or anyone around me, I imagine it's something you'll only understand if you've been there, but even so 50/50 gives a powerful insight into what it can be like and is a genuinely moving film.

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