Film Review: 50/50

An emotional comedy drama, 50/50 efficiently tugs at the heart strings. Jonathan Levine’s film boasts a good script and some excellent performances.

Adam is a twenty-seven year old guy with a fairly average lifestyle. When he is diagnosed with cancer, Adam struggles to come to terms with the shock. Adam must fight the disease whilst his family, friends and girlfriend come to terms with his condition. He has support from his new therapist, as well as best friend Kyle…

The balance of comedy and drama shifts in sync with the progression of the film. Will Reiser’s script works well, turning comedy to drama swiftly, and vice versa. 50/50 is successful because it posits a situation that most can comprehend, even if they cannot identify with. The film should hold particular resonance with viewers of a similar age to the protagonist. Adam’s lifestyle before cancer is completely normal, and therefore identifiable.

Levine’s film could have been entirely sentimental, given the subject matter. However the humour saves 50/50 from being a complete sobfest. The character of Kyle, played by Seth Rogen, counteracts the often serious tone, frequently providing the comic relief. In the second half of the film, the tone becomes distinctly emotional. Most viewers will struggle not to shed a tear at some point.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt offers a strong central performance as Adam. He is convincing throughout the film. It is Anjelica Houston who is really exemplary, however. Such is the power of Houston’s performance, she is able to reduce the audience to tears in every scene that she is in. Anna Kendrick provides good support in a role well suited to her, while Seth Rogen plays the type of role he has often played before. In this case, the comedy sidekick is a very necessary character, and Rogen does a decent job.

Viewers should have few complaints about 50/50. It is sentimental when it needs to be, but can just as easily switch to comedy. Highly recommended viewing.

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