I was in a terrible mood yesterday. I had just finished watching the Bengals comeback against my Bills. It was a comeback that never should have happened; a comeback that never would have happened if the officials were just doing their job. So to take my mind off this disgusting taste in my mouth, to try and instill a bit of uplift to my spirit I decided to go see a movie about a twenty-something who was just diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The funny thing is that it worked.
50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, is a refreshing film, which, in my opinion, will or at least should, garner some serious Oscar consideration.
If you’ve read about this film or have seen the trailers, you have a good idea what the film is about. If not, it’s about a man who finds out he has a rare form of Cancer and deals with all the changes that take place in his life as a result of it.
The film is a rare breed, as it possesses a mix: of comedy, dark comedy, friendship and relationships in general, romance, change, sacrifice, sadness, acceptance and awareness.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as Adam, delivered his best performance to date and should get some serious consideration for Best Actor. His demeanor, personality, and subtlety in humor are perfect for this character. The role demanded quite a bit out of him. He had to give the impression that he was in fact, not simply acting, but also experiencing the wide and seemingly ever-alternating emotions, that change in Adam’s life, from one scene to the next. His acting is incredibly believable, as he depicts his characters journey, both physically and emotionally, with each of the stages patients often experience. The audience feels with him and feels for him. I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with the performance he turned in.
Seth Rogen also did a great job in the film. His character, although comedic by nature, must come to terms with a side of life that he just wasn’t prepared to experience yet. He genuinely cares for his friend’s well being, although, whereas one’s natural tendency might be to feel pity for their friend, he uses jokes, lightheartedness, all in a “nothing’s wrong” sort of way. At first one might think his character is trying to benefit off his friend’s condition, and he does do this a little bit, yet personal benefit is never his intention, as everything he tries to do for his friend is intended to make his friend feel better, to provide support, which he does in the only way he knows how to give it.
Throughout the film, Adam learns how opinions change once people hear he has cancer. There are numerous incidents of this throughout the film, from girls at bars that wouldn’t give him the time of day before, are now sleeping with him to his mother and her overcompensating mechanisms kicking into overdrive. Good intent seems to be the motivation much of the time. However, we see his then girlfriend, Rachael, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (Lady In The Water, Spider-Man3, The Help, Eclipse), act selfishly. She picks him up from the hospital much later than she was supposed to, virtually forcing Adam to wait outside in the cold. She cheats on him and blames it on her not knowing how to deal with the situation. She did buy him the dog Skeletor, which in itself was a foreshadowing device, essentially saying, “ Well look, I know I won’t be there for you, so here’s a dog, I hear those with what you have like dogs, he should be good for you.”
As Adam goes through his journey we not only get to see his personal experience and his reactions to his circumstances, but also get a greater understanding of illness as a whole, much more than I would have expected beforehand.
Adam realizes, as does anyone who experiences a major change to their life, that you find who your true friends and family are. His mother, albeit, pestering, is and always will be there for him. His best friend (Rogen), it’s shown, is reading up on how to be there for his friend. But not only is he learning how to care for his buddy, he’s also doing what he’s being taught.
As I mentioned earlier, the film weaves many concepts and plays with various emotions. What worked best for me though, was how humor and sadness seem to offset one another. Scenes that invoke sadness, even depression are followed by either Adam’s own style of humor or with Rogen’s louder jokes. Without watching again I can’t say for sure, but it did seem like the alternating between Sad and funny was intentionally plotted. It seemed as if the scenes that were bearably sad were followed by those featuring Levitt and his subtler humor while those scenes that were much sadder were followed up with Rogen’s style of funny.
I wasn’t expecting a romantic angle to the film, but romance actually played a large role for Adam. His therapist, played by Anna Kendrick, also from the Twilight films, was so refreshing. Her personality and inexperience, as we’re told she’s still writing her dissertation, clash and mesh perfectly with Adam and his personality and inexperience. Their scenes were definitely some of the best ones in 50/50.
All in all it’s a great film. It has pretty much everything you could want in a drama/comedy. There’s enough of each, and as mentioned earlier even more, for any type of moviegoer. However, the best thing I can say about 50/50 is how you get to experience the low points and the high points along with the characters, Adam in particular, eventually leaving the theater very much so uplifted.
And for me, well until I got back into my car and listened to the radio, I completely forget all about the injustice that took place just a few hours earlier on the football field.