50/50 movie cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick, Seth Rogen, Anjelica Huston, Bryce Dallas Howard
50/50 movie director: Jonathan Levine
50/50 movie rating: 4.5 stars
Dealing with an illness can be hard, especially if that illness is life-threatening. Chances are that if you are making a movie around such a subject, that film would largely be an emotionally draining affair. But can such a feature be sweet, funny and endearing at the same time as well? As writer Will Reiser and filmmaker Jonathan Levine show us in 50/50, that can actually happen.
The Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick and Seth Rogen starrer released way back in 2011. Said to be loosely based on scriptwriter Will Reiser’s own experiences, 50-50 takes us on a journey of ups and downs with its primary protagonist Adam Lerner (a brilliant, understated Gordon), who discovers that he is been diagnosed with schwannoma neurofibrosarcoma, a kind of a malignant tumor in his spine and has only 50-50 chances of survival. What happens hereafter to our hero moves the narrative in strange, unexpected and affecting ways.
Of course, Adam’s girlfriend leaves him and his weird friend makes light of his situation, claiming that the odds are in his favour. As far his parents are concerned, they are overprotective and overemotional; especially his mother (a wonderful Anjelica Huston). Adam, meanwhile, is torn; he is too young to die after all.
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All the supporting characters play their parts to the T, with Seth Rogen stealing everyone’s thunder as the awkward best friend who cannot fully comprehend the gravity of the situation. The jokes evoke laughter, the dialogues touch you and the script is tight and unsparing as it doesn’t indulge in unnecessary melodrama. Which, to be honest, it could have easily done, considering the subject of the movie.
However, what saves the game significantly here is the editing. 50/50 is a crisp humane tale, with its runtime sitting neatly at 100 minutes. So kudos to editor Zene Baker.
The Jonathan Levine directorial is currently streaming on Netflix, for those of you who are interested.