“50/50” Review


Joseph Gordon-Levitt…………..Adam
Seth Rogen…………………….….Kyle
Anna Kendrick……………………Katherine


Director………………………….Jonathan Levine
Producers……………………….Nathan Kahane, Will Reiser
Writers…………………………..Will Reiser

I’m not really sure for what reason, but somehow, I tried to keep myself away from this film. I can’t really put my finger on why; maybe because it was a ‘comedy’ on a devastating disease, or maybe because it had Seth Rogen in it. I can’t really say. But when I eventually did watch “50/50”, I came out feeling so emotionally-drained, yet remarkably satisfied.

The story follows a 28-year-old man (Levitt) who leads a normal life, just like everybody else. Except soon, he starts having a backache, which steadily exacerbates until he finally goes to see the doctor. What does he find out? He has neurofibroma-sarcoma-schwannoma, a very rare type of spinal cancer which has a 50/50 survival rate.

Upon hearing this news, Adam’s girlfriend vows to stand by him and help him through the cancer, despite Adam offering an opportunity to get out while she could. Adam’s best friend Kyle (played very well by Seth Rogen) also tells him that he’ll be there, no matter what.

So Adam begins chemotherapy with two other elderly gentlemen (one of whom is played by Phillip Baker Hall). These two men provide very realistic input, as well as dry humour; and for a time, one might even forget that the three have cancer because it functions much like a normal friendship. But of course, it’s cancer. And that is something that weighs heavily on everybody’s mind, be it the audience or indeed the characters in the film.

Adam then gets an appointment with a psychologist, and is surprised to find the 24-year-old Katherine (played by Anna Kendrick) sitting, chomping down on some burgers when he gets there; in fact, she isn’t even a doctor yet, as she is pursuing her doctorate. Adam doesn’t like it, but he continues his sessions. While psychologists are meant to keep some distance, Katherine becomes too involved, and when Adam’s girlfriend finally bails on him, he is left with nothing but Kyle and Katherine, both of whom step up the plate as Adam tries desperately to grab a hold of anything he can.

We also meet Adam’s parents: his excessively nagging mother and his Alzheimer’s-inflicted father. But things just never seem to look better for him as his health steadily declines until he finally accepts that, yes, he is going to die. All of this culminates in an absolutely gut-wrenching scene where he bids farewell, maybe forever, to his parents and Kyle.

The soundtrack of the film is absolutely fantastic, elevating the on-screen drama to new heights. It adds just enough to the film to send the audience into an emotional rollercoaster ride. The acting, of course, is also top-notch. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anna Kendrick have a tremendous on-screen chemistry and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that there is something between Adam and Katherine. It is one of the two relationships that really drive this film, the other being the friendship between Adam and Kyle. Even the supporting cast members, like Adam’s mother and his fellow cancer patients are excellent in their respective roles.

While ‘50/50’ tried its best to stay upbeat, especially by adding touches of humour from Seth Rogen, it remained a truly sad film. And this is what makes this film so good. It revels in its sadness and bathes itself in it. Often, sadness in films just becomes too much, and at times this film’s sadness becomes too much too; but there always seems to be some hope that Adam can hold on to, and by extension, we feel this hope too, and we are engrossed in the film, wanting to know how it ends and whether or not Adam will be alright.

The film resonated with me on every level, even though I don’t know very much about cancer – and don’t ever want to. It made me really reflect and think about my own life and the things I would do and say if I ever ran into a situation like the one Adam finds himself in. It made me think of the people I would go to, and the people I would reveal my true feelings too. And I think, “God, never put me in a position like that.”

This movie teaches you to ‘seize the day’, and to not wait for tomorrow for one doesn’t know what tomorrow holds. Well, that’s just me, anyway. I think the beauty of this film is that it applies to each and every person, and it can teach everyone a different lesson. ‘50/50’ is a sad film, no doubt, despite the touches of humour. Nevertheless, it manages to stay a little upbeat, and it works. This is one film which is difficult to express in words simply because it is an experience. You don’t watch it; you feel it. This is a movie that really makes you think, so go watch it whenever you have the chance. You will not be disappointed.