Wednesday, 7 December 2011

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50/50 [Review]


Opinion: A

Totally above expectation, Jonathan Levine's comedy-drama went out to make literal sense of its genre title with heaps of laughter and emotional strings attached. First-time feature screenwriter Will Reiser, who based the script upon his own true life story, made the film so much more with the delicate situations and engaging dialogues to fuel this film into an audience favourite. Also worthy of note was the performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anna Kendricks.


A young man turns a devastating illness into a unique opportunity to experience life in 50/50, a funny, touching and original story about friendship, love and survival.

Writer Will Reiser experienced his own personal battle with cancer, and was inspired to write an original story which reflects the humor and heartbreak which collide in a touching and often hilarious journey in which a young man is completely unprepared for.

Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has a pretty great life—with a talented, sexy artist girlfriend and a great job, the 27-year old seems to have it all. But when Adam begins to suffer with agonizing back pain, he discovers that he has cancer. With a massive, malignant tumor growing along his spinal column, his life changes!

His best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), uses Adam’s condition to lure girls into sympathy sex, his overbearing mother (Anjelica Huston) loses sight of him in her own fears, his otherwise-occupied girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) tries to distract herself an increasingly frantic social life, and Katherine (Anna Kendrick), the young therapist assigned to his case, struggles to keep up with the needs of her third client ever in an unexpectedly funny movie that reminds us that sometimes laughter really is the best medicine.


Rare were cross genre projects as successful as Jonathan Levine's 50/50. Purely upon the idea of pitting Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt together, it's a tumour-inducing fusion between comedy and drama.

Albeit a belign one.

The main plot theme of Adam being diagnosed with a malicious tumour detected some region around his lower back (don't probe further, I'm not a medical professional) was common to all. Cancer would typically be deemed as a grave subject matter and thus most films would easily angle and drive it towards the tear-jerking region.

50/50 opened briskly and devoted the screentime straight to comedy and really allowed its audience a good laugh. Of course, this weeds-high sensation lasted till the moment his unfortunate diagnosis came about to instill a quick dose of reality check. Situations surrounding Adam immediately confronted him promptly and appropriately.

On that note, 50/50 would really make a good cancer-awareness film for those who're dealing with or facing the medical condition.

Then came my personal favourite scene - The first meet between a young therapist trainee, Katherine (Anna Kendricks), and Adam. I thought there was some really great dialogue and chemistry going on between them during all their scenes together. There was more than just the awkwardness and occasional humour, it was full of honest interactions that didn't lie to the audience.

Of course, Adam and his best pal Kyle (Seth Rogen) would contribute the most towards hilarity. Kyle was positioned as the casual playful friend who made jokes out of almost everything. Of course, being overly elated in front of your cancer-stricken best pal may seemed to be inappropriate for some. But here, one might consider perhaps laughter could well be Kyle's strategy to keep Adam afloat from all the doomed depression.

The good times of having all the laughs were left in the first two thirds of the film until it transitioned well into emotional territories.

***Potential Spoiler Ahead***

One scene that got to my well of emotions was the scene when he was scheduled for a risky surgery where he began to take in the possibilities of never being able to wake up to his loved ones again. He instinctively questioned the anaesthesiologist "How long would the effect last? What if I stir during the middle of the operation and what if I don't wake after the surgery?

***End of Potential Spoiler*** 

This was where Gordon-Levitt's acting capabilities were placed under test where we soon realised that he was capable of the entire transition from a fine young man to one who bit his lips in sorrow and ultimately losing control and composure (as finely displayed in the car breakdown scene). This would definitely make a fine showcase of his potential within his career portfolio.

Likewise, Kendricks continued her critically well-received performance in "Up In The Air" and continued to show how endearing a screen presence in front of her audience she could master and instill. Although in much less talkative role this time in 50/50, it didn't stop her from showing her emotions through her skin and that distinctly proved her worth as a bright talent (she's 26 this year).

50/50 may be the odds of Adam's survival story against cancer, but it's clearly one of the best cinematic moments captured of friendship and love in laughter and tears.


1 comment:

  1. What a terrific review. I can't wait to see this as unfortunately, I have quite a bit of personal experience with the disease. it has taken good friends and family over the years. There are moments where laughter really gets you through. I'm glad this film captures those moments very well. I love JGL and think he is a monster talent who should work more than he does.

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