50/50 Review

A BROMANTIC comedy about the struggle of battling cancer, a concept that may not appeal to many. Yet director, Jonathon Levine successfully finds humour and comedy from a topic where one wouldn’t normally expect, it’s a sweet-natured film that never becomes too flippant about its subject matter.

Inspired by true events, the film’s screenplay is written by Will Resier, who himself was diagnosed and battled with cancer. The Film Stars, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as Adam, a journalist who is diagnosed with cancer after a visit to see his doctor about a sore back.

His doctor informs him he has malignant tumour growing on his spine. Adam Researches his type of cancer on the internet and discovers his survival rate, is 50/50. Requiring immediate chemotherapy, Adam’s character goes through a mixture of emotions during his fight against cancer.

He becomes increasingly dependent on his friends and family, who themselves have to learn how to help someone fighting cancer.His best friend Kyle, played by Seth Rogan, tells Adam: “If you were a casino game, you’d have great odds.”

Rogan is close friends with writer Will Reiser and also has a producer credit for the film. He is on trademark skirt chasing, pot smoking form in the film. Kyle may not be perfect but he has his heart in the right place.

Bryce Dallas Howard, plays Rachel, Adam’s artist girlfriend. Disliked by Kyle, she struggles to cope with the responsibilities thrust upon her.She fails to offer Adam the emotional support he requires. As their relationship falters, the bromantic relationship between Adam and Kyle becomes closer.

The comedy in the mostly film comes from situations between the two, such as Adam’s decision to shave his hair. Levitt shaved his hair for real for the film and the exchange between him and Rogan was largely improvised and not in the original script. Reminiscent of Steve Carrell’s chest waxing scene from 40 Year Old Virgin.

Admittedly when Rogan’s character is not on-screen the film does sag slightly.However, Levine throws in some bittersweet moments between Adam and fellow cancer patients. Which are both comedic and touching.

Adam’s young therapist, Rachel, played by Anna Kendricks, at first seems to only add to Adam’s trouble but as their session’s progress, friendship and romance begin to blossom.Slightly contrived as it may sound there is genuine chemistry between the two and there is a genuine sweetness about their relationship.

Angelica Huston is fantastic as Adam’s protective mother. Her story is the most complex of all the characters in the film.She gives an understated performance of an incredibly strong and loving mother, already dealing with her own personal sadness.

With a superb cast, who all deliver great performances. The film is a great little gem that arrived with relatively little fanfare.It never belittles the struggle of cancer patients but finds genuine humour from Adam’s experiences. Based on the writings of someone who himself went through the same struggles as Adam’s character, there must be some truth to its humour.

The film never becomes a bucket list style film but instead is a strangely uplifting bittersweet comedy that’s well worth a watch.

By James McClean

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