Friday, November 25, 2011


I was in two minds about seeing 50/50 ... not because of the title, you understand (doh!) but because of the subject matter.  Aware that it was a comedy - about cancer - I felt some trepidation (as it has touched my life, albeit at one close remove, over the past year).

My worries were assuaged, as the film opened, with an upbeat soundtrack and the introduction of instantly engaging characters.  Adam (brilliantly personified by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is inspired by screenwriter, Will Reiser's own youthful encounter with the disease and his attempts not just to survive, but to do so with a healthy injection of humour.  Seth Rogen, as Kyle, relives the experience he underwent with real-life best-mate, Will. 

Set in vibrant Seattle, where Adam and Kyle work at a radio station, the title has continuous resonance.  Adam's deplorably unempathetic consultant is patently clueless, when it comes to breaking life-changing news. The serious spinal cancer diagnosis has tragicomic elements: hard to take-in the implications and impact but tempered by its (semi-)hysterical name.

Superficially, it appears that Kyle will be little help to Adam. Soon, though, we realise that his way of coping (divertingly taking advantage of the situation) not only provides a quirky springboard for comedy but also lightens Adam's load. Although their relationship is core to the film, significant others include charming fledging therapist, Katie (excellent Anna Kendrick) and Adam's mother (Anjelica Huston).  Not to forget, adorable, retired racing dog, Skeletor, who provides much-needed solace to Adam, in lonesome moments of despair.

Unsurprisingly, poignancy has a strong presence throughout the movie; 50/50 equally encompasses the tear-jerking elements as the scenes bestrewn, and lightened, with laughter.  I left the cinema with a fresh perspective on day-to-day concerns...

50/50 is in UK cinemas from today.

Credit: photo courtesy of Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment

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