Friday, November 18, 2011

50/50

Movies about cancer don’t have to take themselves too seriously in order to be profound. That’s the cinematic lesson I learned from a beautiful little gem called 50/50, starring Seth Rogen (Knocked up, Pineapple Express, The Green Hornet) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin, Inception, 3rd rock from the sun).  

What sets 50/50 apart from your standard film about cancer is director Jonathan Levine’s (All the boys love Mandy Lane) off-beat approach to a very grim topic, imbuing his story with a great comical flair that prevents the film from ever descending into the depths of melodramatic cheesiness. But that’s not to say that 50/50 isn’t going to grip you – if anything, the quirky nature of the film only manages to heighten the film’s emotional intensity, as characters’ reactions feel real and honest as they try to deal with some really dreadful events in their lives.

"characters’ reactions feel real and honest as they try to deal with some really dreadful events in their lives."

As with any movie based on grave events, 50/50 shines primarily thanks to brilliantly honest performances by its cast. At the helm of things is Joseph Gordon Levitt, whom is actually no stranger to unconventional roles – Some like Mysterious Skin, which most casual movie goers will not be familiar with. His experience however becomes very obvious in 50/50, as he is perfectly casted as a young working man troubled by the news that he has acquired a very serious type of cancer. Levitt plays the role with a superb level of ease as his character at first tries to deny the seriousness of his situation. As things start to get more dire however, Levitt’s performance changes quite dramatically, delivering exceptional emotional climaxes for viewers to indulge in.

What makes this even more delightful is the fact that Levitt’s performance is complemented by a stellar cast: Seth Rogen is the perfect supportive buddy, Bryce Dallas Howard (The help, Lady in the water, The Village) a very unsupportive ex and Anna Kendrik (Up in the air, Twilight, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) a super funny psychologist in training. I can openly attest of the greatness of each of these supporting performances and don’t want to single out one , but if I had to, I would go for Anna Kendrik.

A quirky and surprisingly upbeat indie-like score adds to the film’s dry and off-beat tone and should be a big hit for fans of the music of films like Garden State and Juno. Great cinematography and generous pacing gives the story a lot of room to grow in your mind, leading to a very pleasurable film experience.


"Great cinematography and generous pacing gives the story a lot of room to grow in your mind, leading to a very pleasurable film experience."


I can’t imagine that many people would be able to find fault with the realistic way in which 50/50 approaches its subject matter and for that reason alone I would recommend it very highly. All of the other great things about just sweetens the deal – definitely worth the price of admission!

Highlight: Levitt's emotional breakdown close to the end of the film is honour to experience.

True buddies, through and through.