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50/50 - Film Review

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by Emily Finlay (subscribe)
A freelance writer and editor living in Melbourne, I'm an avid fan of film, television and literature.
Published October 8th 2012
Let's get it out of the way; 50/50 is a comedy about cancer. 'Cancer' and 'comedy' are two words that aren't often used in the same sentence. But if you can get past the fact that 50/50 is a comedy about cancer, you might actually enjoy it. In fact, you might actually love it. 50/50 is about finding the humour in heart-breaking situations; it's a realistic, touching portrait of friendship and love in times of crisis.

Inspired by a true story, 50/50 is the story of Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 27-year-old who is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. The film follows Adam's struggle to beat the disease, and the reaction of his friends and family to the diagnosis. Kyle (Seth Rogen) sticks by Adam and urges him to keep enjoying life. Adam's girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) tries to be there for him but flakes on key responsibilities. His mother Diane (an almost unrecognisable Anjelica Huston) is upset that Adam is keeping her at arm's length. And Adam himself is more worried about the effect of his diagnosis on others, and only begins to realise his mortality during his therapy sessions with the inexperienced Katherine (Anna Kendrick).

The film is based on screenwriter Will Reiser's own experience with cancer. Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Superbad) is Reiser's real-life best friend, and it shows in his performance as Kyle. While Rogen does his usually crass motor-mouth thing, there's an underlying emotionally vulnerability that is not always present in his performances. Rogen and Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises, Looper) also have great chemistry, with many scenes ad-libbed by the actors. Gordon-Levitt is fantastic; his performance is heart-breakingly raw and utterly believable.

50/50 is a fantastic film. It is hilarious, but also extremely moving. It is sometimes uncomfortably realistic, as anyone who has any experience with cancer can attest to. The film is named after Adam's 50/50 chance of survival, but this is a film you should go and see 100 per cent.

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