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50/50

A 2011 movie directed by Jonathan Levine.

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A soulful ride of joy and survival that will enlarge the spirit of many viewers out there.

  • Dec 18, 2011
Rating:
+3


Jonathan Levine seemed like he had to make a movie that will have to face different challenges for me to really appreciate it to the fullest. It had to find comedy in the darkest corners of someone's life and it had to embrace drama without harvesting hard for tears. What 50/50 does is exactly what I expected. Trashing me in my theater chair and refill my soul with joy and a beautiful state of catharsis. I love this film simply because it has balls to broke the patterns, because it feels real and honest, and because at the end of the film you won't feel sad nor happy, you will feel free and in peace with whatever might come to you in life. It's an example of how to not lose it in the toughest moments and how to fight and be yourself whatever the outcome of your problems might be.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, an adolescent who's living a pretty daily routine without too many distractions or interferences from outside his own circle of familiarity. Working and spending time with his girlfriend Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard), his closest friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), or alone watching movies or reading. A declaration of normality in today's society. Everything starts to change once he needs to go to a doctor and make some medical tests because of a seemingly insignificant back issue. The reports will change his life from now on once he's notified in a pretty distant and cold way that he has a form of cancer which will leave him 50/50 chances to survive. His character is what I think it should be. A dose of positiveness in the whole chaos that was about to happen. I was from the first moment attracted to the characters because I honestly saw it as a mirror of my own personality. It strives on the ideas that I basically run my life with. The simple fact that he takes a harsh response without screaming and appealing to grotesque methods of crying for himself and the fast finding of a comfort zone and a peace of mind with the situation is what I also expect for myself. Now Adam will continue his daily routine for a short period of time. His friend Kyle will be there for him but he'll also try to make him comfortable by joking with him while at the same time he kinda innocently uses his friend's medical issue to meet women. He does that not because of selfishness but because of the actual shock that he also has. He's afraid but he doesn't show it. He's trying to convince himself that this is not happening to his best friend so he decides to joke around without realizing that it might affect in the long run his partner. Adam's girlfriend, Rachel, decides to take care of him and support him ignoring the past issues they had. As for Adam's parents, he'll carefully notify them even though "them" is not a realistic term since his father had serious medical issues as well. So Adam's concern for his mother is realistic and honest and that's how I will act in his place too.

Getting back to his relationship with Rachel, problems do happen every now and then, there's no sense of perfection, but later, Rachel will pull what many girls of her type I saw them pulling in real life. They'll abandon their commitment because they won't feel secure, because they won't spend their time taking care of one guy that they will think they'll lose, because they want to have fun, they're young so in their eyes this will be too much for them. As expected, Rachel will leave Adam heartbroken. Being heartbroken in times like this won't help you in any way. On the contrary. Adam slightly begins to lose confidence. He's already started to visit a young aspiring psychiatrist Katie (Anna Kendrick) but this relationship will further develop since it will become his most beloved place to simply retire and escape from his own bad thoughts and signs of frustration or desperation. Adam will continue pursuing this honest path to light and life, he'll fight with his inner little fork devils that will try to make him quit, he'll find comfort while speaking and embracing a group of other patients with cancer from his hospital, he'll have to witness the loss of one of them, he'll realize the possible outcome of his situation, he'll find peace and he'll find love and friendship in his mother, his young psychiatrist and his closest friend. He'll survive only if he'll play not by the rules of life but by the conventionality of his own heart and of his own desires.

Joseph Gordon-Levit plays fantastically his character. While the performance itself might not be groundbreaking in terms of technical acting, his wisdom and lack of control of his character will let him feel real and spontaneous. JGL gives a soulful performance, a delight to both the screen and our eyes, and to our minds and hearts. I had questions before the movie came out of how Seth Rogen will fit in this but he pulled the best he could pull in his situation. He didn't felt exaggerated and he didn't felt restrained or rigid on the screen. He found a way to mix his comedic behavior with the seriousness of the story and his own character. Bryce Dallas Howard was very good for her screen time, which made me like her even more as an actress after her almost perfect performance in The Help. Anna Kendrick was the least interesting act, not because of her character but because I already know how she'll play her roles. She mostly picks childish and silly characters so that I became familiar with everything she does. She'll have to pull a 180 degrees route for me to pay attention to her performance. The technical execution of this film was similar with 500 Days of Summer for example. It had light tones but in contrast with a pretty dark story. I cannot really find too many issues with neither the cinematography, neither the sets or the music, neither with the mixing and editing, everything seemed in powerful contrast with the story and that benefited the whole experience.

50/50 is one of the most powerful films of 2011, a soulful ride of joy and survival that will enlarge the spirit of many viewers out there. It's a bold small cinematic statement that will never be forgotten by anyone out there.

Storyline/Dialogue: 8.5
Acting: 8.5
Technical Execution: 8.1
Replay Value: 9
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Overall: 8.3

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December 18, 2011
I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this film. Your thoughts mirror my own, and I really enjoyed reading your review. Loved the way you opened it and closed the write up. Good work!
December 18, 2011
Thanks. Moneyball next (in a few hours... still have some work to finish).
 
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More 50/50 reviews
review by . November 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The Odds Are Good That You Would Love This Film!
Movies that go into subjects that have a bleak premise such as dealing with a terminal disease are often easily dismissed as something that can be depressing and it is absolutely so easy to go into its human drama in a rather melodramatic and potentially heavy-handed way. I’ve seen many films that portray a terminal disease such as cancer and then take the premise to the limits of melodrama. Well, seems like director Jonathan Levine and writer Will Reiser’s “50/50” has done …
review by . October 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Losing several family members to cancer and with a spouse that has had her own battle, I just had to see this film. I was a little worried about having Seth Rogen in it (see my review of The Green Hornet) but even being his obnoxious self could spoil this excellent movie. Joseph Gorden-Levitt learns he has cancer and a very rare type that is growing in his spine and he must start immediate chemotherapy.    There is an immediate change in his girlfriend's behavior towards him …
review by . February 13, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****    Screenwriters are no longer afraid of exploring a difficult subject such as cancer in one of their works. They know that cancer in cinema is a market in its own; just look at movies like "The Bucket List" and "The Ultimate Gift". People like watching movies like this; and that is precisely why they are made. However, the consumers seem oblivious to the fact that cancer screenwriting for profit is nothing more than shameless, exploitative cash-in. If you …
review by . October 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
“50/50” isn’t a movie about cancer. “50/50” isn’t a film about a bromance or how a family rallies together in the end despite their differences. Instead, “50/50” takes on the concept of how normal people react, whether positively or negatively, to one of the most tragic diseases of our time affecting someone with their entire life ahead of them. The movie comes from the perspective of Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a 27-year-old radio journalist …
review by . September 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Whenever dealing with heavy themes, it is always important to find a balance to the material. No one in Hollywood is afraid to laugh about terminal illness anymore, but too many laughs and you risk creating an uncomfortable audience, too few and you risk being a Hallmark television movie of the week. Will Reiser is able to take a frightening part of his life and keep the audience smiling while sharing his heartfelt story of survival. 50/50 is a perfect balance of humor and heart to create …
review by . September 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I'll Take That Bet
50/50 Written by Will Reiser Directed by Jonathan Levine Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston   Adam: I can’t remember being so calm in a long time. Katie: Would you describe it as numbness? Adam: No, I would describe it as fine.   Up and coming director, Jonathan Levine’s latest film, 50/50, is being billed as a cancer comedy, only I cried about five times so I’m not sure the descriptor really fits. …
review by . September 27, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'50/50' 'Two Jews On Film' Cheer This Beautiful Heartfelt Dramedy (Video)
A doctor tells a young man he has cancer - a tumor.  The man replies 'Tumor...Me?' The doctor says 'yes'.  The man responds...'That's impossible...I don't smoke...I don't drink...I recycle.'      The young man is Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and he not only has cancer...but he has a super rare cancer...a giant tumor growing along his spine and his chances are...50-50.       So …
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