50/50 (2011)

Director:  Jonathan Levine
Cast:  Joseph Gordon-LevittSeth RogenAnna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard 
Plot:  Inspired by a true story, a comedy centered on a 27-year-old guy who learns of his cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease.

Genre:  Comedy/Drama
Awards:  Nom. for 2 Golden Globes - Best Comedy/Musical, Best Leading Actor (Comedy/Musical).
Runtime:  100min
Rating:  M18 for language throughout, sexual content and some drug use.


Inspired by a true story, just like probably any other film out there who tries to use this marketing gimmick, 50/50 is indeed true to a large extent.  Based on the life experiences of Will Reiser, who wrote the screenplay for the film, 50/50 is a light-hearted look at a serious issue – cancer.

In the film, Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 27-year old writer for a radio programme is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.  He checks the Internet to find out that he has a 50-50 chance of surviving.  His good buddy, Kyle (Seth Rogen), jokes that in a casino game, he would have the best odds.

Such is the comical treatment of cancer in this film that any skeptic would believe it is an insult to those suffering from the unspeakable illness.  Yet, and it is a very big yet, the film remains to be the kind of picture that should be required viewing for everyone, especially for cancer patients because it so brilliantly and simply illuminates hope.

Director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness, 2008) has made a film that is no doubt one of the best of the year, a film that manages to be laugh-out loud hilarious and emotionally overwhelming at the same time.

Gordon-Levitt gives his strongest performance of his career thus far.  He effectively gives a nuanced display of a young man who accepts his condition as he is supported with varying degrees by his worrisome mother (Anjelica Huston), his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), Kyle, and a young therapist called Katherine (Anna Kendrick).  

All give excellent supporting performances, in particular Huston, who lights up the screen in a tear-jerking moment with her son before a critical surgery.  Without Reiser’s introspective and emotionally resonant screenplay, half the battle would have been lost.

Levine’s control of tone is spot-on.  His use of music, a mix of contemporary songs and classic oldies, provides an upbeat and comfortable setting in which the issue of cancer could be broached from the point-of-view of a patient without the fear of being unintentionally insensitive to those concerned.

In a way, 50/50 is this year’s Knocked Up (2007), the Judd Apatow film that sensationally and sensitively explored the topic of premarital sex among youths with a fine balance of laughs and tears (of joy).  If you are still unsure whether to catch this, rest assured that you will leave the theater with a positive vibe.


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Ewok Tan said…
Just watched the show and I must agree that the soundtrack was apt. Strong performance from the cast and the characters were fleshed out without being over-dramatic. Good watch!!
Eternality said…
Glad that you liked the film. It will be in my annual Top 10 list. Cheers.

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