50/50 is one of those films that if you had the good fortune to see the trailer you probably thought “oh this is another cancer comedy.” The film written by Will Reiser and directed by Jonathan Levine works to show the subtle effects a cancer diagnosis and treatment can have on someone of a younger age. The film stars Joseph Gordon Levitt as Adam, a capable radio journalist at public radio station in Seattle Washington. Adam goes into the doctor for a routine check up and is literally paralyzed by the news that doctors have found a specific and rare type of cancer in his body. Seth Rogen’s character is Adam’s best friend Kyle. Kyle is the comedic relief of the piece for most of the movie. The comedy comes not only from Rogen playing a dialed down version of himself but from the supporting cast like Bryce Dallas Howard as Adam’s girlfriend Rachel and Adam’s mom Diane played by the capable Angelica Huston.
The film takes its dramatic center from Adam’s suffering. Levitt’s performance as Adam is remarkably restrained and instead of feeling or showing rage throughout most of the film, Levitt opts to use body language to communicate feelings. In short, his character is only verbally hostile for short bursts and most of the time Adam chooses to keep what he truly feels about the cancer buried.
50/50 is less about Adam trying to win his fight with cancer and more about how he processes the idea of having cancer. I think the director and screenwriter did an amazing job of showing audiences a sympathetic character and a new perspective on how cancer can affect someone. There are plenty of humorous moments that work to balance the morose subject matter. Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen did a great job making their characters seem real and making the story something very captivating to watch. I love this film and feel that people need to go see it.