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Review

‘50/50’ wows with poignancy

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October 21, 2011

Based on a true story, “50/50” tackles a subject that often comes across heavy, but here, it is handled with care, heart, and laughter. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a man in his mid-20s, aspiring to be a great journalist that learns that he has a severe form of cancer along his spine. Now he must learn how to cope with this disease and how he will handle this tough time. His best friend Kyle, played by Seth Rogen, is with him during this tough time, often there to be the comic relief during Adam’s illness.

Adam is just at the beginning of a new relationship with Rachael, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, who must now decide to stay with Adam or to leave him so she will not have to struggle with him. Rachael’s character is really the only uneven part of this film. Everyone else is very down to earth and takes the situation head on while she struggles with it and practically ignores that it is happening. It is not that she is in denial; it is because Rachael is making it about herself and not Adam. Rachael’s character is underdeveloped and just wrong for this film.

With that said, Adam’s journey is tough even without Rachael making his life harder. His mother is played by the great Anjelica Huston, who plays the worried mother character so well. Adam does not see his mother for what she really is until he gets farther along in his cancer, where he realizes she is one of the few people he is close with in life. To help Adam cope with a life that could come to an end at any time, he begins to go to a therapist, played by Anna Kendrick, where he realizes he is only her third patient. Her nervousness, nuances, and mannerisms are great and really help you get a feel for her character. Kendrick steals the screen with her portrayal of this character that slowly seems to fall for Adam because she sees him for what he is, not for the cancer that is slowly killing him.

Their connection unravels slowly, at just the right pace where it does not take over the film. “50/50” never strays from telling the story of Adam. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a break out performance here as he hits every note that is needed from him and does not run this character over the top when it easily could have been. I must admit as the ending began getting closer, I felt myself feeling for all the main four characters. When they all finally meet in the same frame, you get the raw sense of emotion and love that they have for Adam. It pulls just the right heartstring which helps make “50/50” one of the best movies of 2011.

Dustyn Dubuque is a history major and geography minor that has a love and passion for film. He watches over 100 films each year and loves Academy Awards season.