50/50 is a brave dark comedy, with a subject matter that is truly not a laughing matter, but weaves all sorts of elements that form a genuine and original storyline. This film follows the story of Adam (Joseph Gordon -Levitt), a 27 year old radio broadcaster who develops a rare form of cancer behind his spine. As he goes through this ordeal, Adam’s best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) supports him by encouraging him to party all he can, while his therapist (Anna Kendrick) and girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) awkwardly assist him in the best way they can.
The best part of 50/50 is that it does not make the same, frustrating mistake that many comedies today make, which is the mistake of adding so much drama to the point where the story is no longer considered a comedy. An example of this is The Dilemma (2011, Ron Howard), which was an enjoyable and satisfying film, yet it lost its ability to make the audience laugh when all of the thematic elements overpowered the comedy. True, 50/50 deals with a life threatening disease, but director Jonathan Levine and screenwriter Will Reiser (whom the film is loosely based off of) manage to keep a relatively good amount of humor, and know how to keep the intense aspects present. They flawlessly bring humor back into play after an incredibly intense scene.
All four of the major characters pull off their roles with realistic depictions, especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500 Days of Summer), Inception). In two scenes particularly, he signifies one who is struggling with something so serious, but isn’t looking for any special sympathy. Flat-out, Joseph Gordon Levitt deserves an Oscar nomination, and the academy will make a huge mistake by not granting him one. Supporting actresses Bryce Dallas Howard (Lady in the Water, The Help) and Anna Kendrick (Twilight series, Up in the Air) didn’t stand out, but their personalities perfectly made Gordon-Levitt’s performance even better. Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express, Paul) had a few good moments where he is enjoyable to watch, but he is there in the story for the sole purpose of comic relief, which he did well, and this once again contributed to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s presentation. Anjelica Huston (Oscar winner for Prizzi’s Honor) plays Adam’s mother, and she is the second best performance of the film, and her shorter, less frequent scenes contribute to the film, not just her onscreen son.
The only interesting aspect about the cinematography for 50/50 is a short but brave split-screen scene, which isn’t used in many films because of its less dramatic tone that may halt some of the film’s creativity. However, 50/50 manages to make it work, but not perfectly. The idea of a brave technique goes along with the movie’s already brave story. The score is also insignificant in the film, although it is nice to see soundtrack choices that actually fit to a scene, unlike another mistake made by films today.
In conclusion, 50/50 is a bold take on a very sensitive topic that uses unique features and a great lead performance to stress the intensity of the story. The intensity is always there, but it successfully becomes lighthearted.
*Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tries to find comfort from his therapist, Katherine (Anna Kendrick)*