By Kaitlin Johannes (La Crosse, Wisconsin, US)

 

Tragic comedies have the reputation of crossing certain lines that make people feel uncomfortable. By harmonizing both tragedy and comedy, people often have no idea how to feel. That is not the case with 50/50. With every depressing twist, there’s always a laugh following and you find yourself loving it. It’s a ‘feel good’ movie but with life lessons intertwined. Will Reiser, the screenplay writer, bases the experiences of the main character, Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), on his own personal incidents. Adam learns he has a very rare and deadly cancer in his back. Since the doctors are unware as to when the cancer will take Adam’s life, the constant worry as to when it might happen keeps audiences at the edge of their seat.

Seth Rogen, who plays Adam’s best friend, displays an imposing performance as always. His involuntary wit and canniness adds sparkle to Adam’s depressing life. Adam’s girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) insists on being the type to deal with illness when it’s quite obvious she isn’t. This causes troubles within the film – but interesting troubles that the audience can easily correlate with. While Adam is dealing with other saddening issues in his life, his mother is dealing with them as well. Adam’s father has dementia and his mother has a hard time not having the opportunity of smothering Adam in his time of need. This adds an emotional aspect to the film that you would have never expected.

Each event that takes place is extremely down-to-earth and understandable. You find yourself laughing, developing anger, feeling weak, and finding relief all in the one hour and 40 minutes. Certain incidents in the film are what society would call corrupt or perverse but that is what makes it so digestible – we all have been in the same situations. On top of that you also have some insight on things you have not yet realized. You come out of the movie gaining an agonizing experience that you would not have received elsewhere.

It’s not a shock that Joseph Gordon-Levitt received ‘Actor of the Year’ for his acting within this movie. His realistic acting skills blew the audience away while portraying the character. Throughout the movie, you get to see the 5 stages of grief as he learns about the cancer. There’s never any question as to which stage he occupies – from his dramatic outbursts, to his constant laughing, to his helpless vibe, Gordon-Levitt expresses each emotion perfectly.

The originality of the movie is excellent despite the one element that happens in almost every film regarding this genre. When Adam first meets his therapist Katherine (Anna Kendrick) you quickly assume that at some point or another the two will begin to have feelings for each other. Apparently, Hollywood still won’t stray away from the whole ‘guys and girls can’t just be friends’ kind of thing. Through therapy you see Adam begin to become more flirtatious towards Katherine while she tries to stay as professional as possible. This part of the plot flows well nicely with the whole movie but it tends to be a little predictable. Other than this, originality pours out of Reiser’s creation. Various lessons are learned in unique ways throughout the film and you find yourself a different person after.

Rating: 4/5

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