Sunday, 29 April 2012

Half and half

The statistics involving cancer are not something that anyone wants to believe. Most people in the developed world have had some sort of connection to the illness, directly or indirectly, and this makes it very tough to make a tasteful movie about the topic. And yet, last year produced a comedy about this very subject. Is that possible? Let's have a look. This is 50/50.

Inspired by a true story, 27 year old Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works in the radio business. He's a hard worker, he stays healthy, he jogs, he doesn't smoke, he doesn't drink excessively, and he doesn't even drive. His best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), and his girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), are always there for him. And then Adam is diagnosed with an extremely rare form of back cancer. Everything changes. Adam begins seeing trainee therapist, Katherine (Anna Kendrick), who desperately tries to connect with him while Adam's parents, well, mother (Anjelica Huston) worries more than Adam finds comfortable. His father (Serge Houde), who suffers with Alzheimer's, doesn't even remember who his son is. The survival rate of this particular form of cancer is 50% (thus the title). Kyle and Rachael both begin to take care of Adam as he goes to chemotherapy and therapy but everything starts becoming heavy. 50/50 is Adam's journey of dealing with his illness.

Modern art has always really excited Seth Rogan

Seth Rogan is playing his typical 'jack ass of a best friend who likes pot' role, but this time there's something different. This is a true story that he was actually involved in. He is playing a version of himself , and, while that does seem to be very similar to most of his characters, this time there's more genuine quality to his performance. Let's hope he tries to branch away from this typecast in future though. All of the supporting cast were fantastic but the show stealer, somewhat obviously, is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His performance as Adam is everything it needs to be and I personally found it to be completely realistic and easy to relate to. How do young, healthy people react to being told they have a life threatening illness? Joseph Gordon-Levitt nails the answer to that question on the head. His emotions do not seem forced in anyway, he really becomes Adam. And as his journey goes on and his illness becomes more severe, the more intense Gordon-Levitt's performance becomes and it completely captivates the viewer. It may be advertised as a comedy, but don't be fooled; there are plenty of tear jerking moments.

The film featured some hot new artwork.

Some may claim that the film is more of a drama than a comedy, but in all honesty, it does a wonderful job of balancing the two. It strays from being too predictable but keeps light hearted which helps make it easy to watch. At no point does it make light of cancer. It looks at the people involved, how they react, and that's what makes it funny. In fact, it's rare that Adam does anything particularly funny. It's normally the situations surrounding him that are funny; there's a pain that's always visible behind Adam's eyes. (More great acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt.) It is this that seperates 50/50 from similar movies. It's not a constant laugh-out-loud film, nor is it a sob-a-thon. It's perfectly balanced in the middle and when it leans too much to one side, it continues to remind you of the other. I have huge respect for Will Reiser and Seth Rogan who lived this experience and had the courage to show it to others. it makes the whole thing feel more genuine.

A well written, well directed, and brilliantly acted piece of cinema. A really well and sensitively handled film on a touching subject matter. Has the ability to jump from laughs to tears with ease and without jarring. Not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination but a damn good film.

 Best bit? Honestly, for me, the best parts were the touching parts. The bits were Adam starts loosing it a bit. those bits really got to me.

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