To say I entered 50/50 with trepidation was an understatement. A film that dealt with such a serious subject as cancer could go either way; it could go the Beaches route and be over sentimental but as this is called a comedy, it could cross the line between good and bad taste. Thankfully, 50/50 is an absolute delight and possibly one of the most uplifting films of the year.
Adam is a quite, unassuming man who lives who is in a loveless relationship with artist Rachael. He does suffer from a bad back. When he has a check-up, his bad back turns out to be a rare form of cancer that most people have a 50/50 chance of surviving. Adam has to re-evaluate his life and with his best buddy, the womanizing Kyle, decides to fight this illness full on, changing elements of his life, while befriending fellow cancer sufferers and visiting psychologist Katherine, who just happens to be as young as Adam and who a friendship begins.
Director Jonathan Levine does the right thing and keeps sentimentality at bay most of the time, instead concentrating on Adam’s nice guy character and the people around him. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Adam, is superb. You instantly warm to him and as you follow him on this journey, you feel his anxiety and pain while having a longing that he can find happiness. Seth Rogan, as his slobbish pal, gets to play Seth Rogan once again and is slightly the weak link in an otherwise pitch perfect casting. He looks like he has accidentally wandered onto the set from Pineapple Express 2.
Anna Kendrick is also a delight, as the psychologist who has just come out of a relationship and finds Adam story fascinating. She is sweet without ever being sickly and you almost scream at the screen that these two young people should be together.
What also is such a surprise about this film is how funny it is, but it is never in bad taste. That is constantly kept at arms length and so what we end up with is a film that is full of warmth and charm while never being offensive and vulgar. It will make make you smile while at the same time you could be choking back the tears but it is never forced and never sign-posted like other films.
Don’t be put off by the subject matter. Just go and enjoy this lovely film that I think will have squeezed in as one of my favourites this years.