Thursday, 20 June 2013

50/50 (2011) - ★★★★

Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Will Reiser
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Angelica Huston, Bryce Dallas Howard, Philip Baker Hall

I was surprised at how much this movie got to me. 50/50 handles the subject of cancer in a very different way to every other film, which is with light-humour and sincerity. The performances are all flawless, with brilliant and believable chemistry between the people and their relationships. Instead of letting cancer dominate the story, it's the people that highlight what is happening on the screen. Disease becomes secondary to feeling, making this an emotional and terrific film.

27 year old Adam (Gordon-Levitt), finds out he has a cancerous tumour in his spine and has a 50/50 chance at living through it. As his health deteriorates, Adam tries to keep a calm and positive attitude throughout the whole experience. His stoner best-friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), and inexperienced therapist, Katherine (Kendrick), help support him through the process as best they can. As you grow attached to these characters, the thought of Adam dying always looms ahead.

Joseph Gordon Levitt gives the most mature performance of his career in this role. I never would have thought that the young outcast from '3rd Rock from the Sun' could become such a great actor. His expressions were subtle, you could tell that he was extremely emotional under an otherwise calm exterior. When he finally explodes and lets his emotions out, it was extremely powerful. When he's just about to get the surgery to remove the tumour, that was one of the most heartbreaking scenes in movie history (in my opinion). You could see the fear on his face as he clung to his mother, which managed to make me shed a tear.

Seth Rogen brought the laughs, but it was more of an intelligent comedic-role (rather than the grotesque humour that we've come to expect from Rogen). His chemistry with Levitt was fantastic, which made one scene very emotional for me. It was the scene where he drops Adam off at the hospital for surgery, knowing that it could very well be the last time he ever sees his best friend again. It wasn't overdramatic or cheesy, it was just a subtle yet emotional "Goodbye and goodluck."

Anna Kendrick gives an amazing performance.
Anna Kendrick was astounding as a young intern psychiatrist. She was assigned to listen to Adam, who gave her a pretty hard time at their beginning sessions. Once again, the chemistry between Kendrick and Levitt was electric. Everytime they were on screen together, it was funny, beautiful, and heart-warming. I feel like Kendrick is one of the best young actresses in Hollywood today, and I believe she has Meryl Streep like potential.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Angelica Huston and Philip Baker Hall in this film. Huston played his mother, and my goodness did she play her well. She was sometimes funny, always emotional, and utterly believable. I'm so glad that she's still doing well in her acting career. Hall played a minor character, a hilarious and cantankerous old man dying of cancer.

Everyone has known someone that has suffered from cancer in one way or another. I don't think 50/50 makes light of the situation or makes it look any easier. It's a simple story with natural dialogue and an array of powerhouse performances. This movie got to me, as I'm sure it has affected many others as well. While it doesn't do it for everyone, I think it's one of the best movies of 2011.

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