Upon learning that he has a rare form spinal cancer with a 50/50 chance of survival, 27-year-old Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) must deal with the consequences of telling his parents, Diane (Anjelica Huston) and Richard (Serge Houde), his best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), and girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), who moves in with him to take care of him. He and Rachael break up and, soon enough, he seeks the help of a therapist, Katie (Anna Kendrick), whoís young, attractive and inexperienced at her job---heís merely her third patient. A romance gradually blossoms between them. While at the hospital, Adam meets two older cancer patients, Alan (Philip Baker Hall), and Mitch (Matt Frewer), who help him as good friends on his bumpy journey through cancer treatment.
Itís not too often that a film blends comedy, tragedy, drama and romance so smoothly and effectively, so itís a testament to the sensitive screenplay by Will Reiser that it works so well without being uneven, melodramatic or awkward. For every minute that you feel like laughing, thereís another that will make you misty-eyed. Moreover, the relationships between Adam and his mother, ex-girlfriend, therapist and best friend, are fully fleshed out in ways that make them human, honest and, most importantly, believable. Rachael might seem initially like a bitch for the way that she treats Adam, but sheís not really a complete bitch that makes you totally hate her. Youíll actually be able to feel the chemistry between Adam and Katie, and to root for them end up together because theyíre very good each other.
Not surprisingly, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, gives yet another solid performance that encompasses a wide range of emotions convincingly. Thereís one particular scene in a car where he really nails the frustration, anger, confusion and sadness that Adam experiences. Itís quite a powerful and memorable moment. Anna Kendrickís sweet, tender performance will also tug at your heartstrings. Seth Rogen provides some of the dirty humor as Adamís best friend, while Anjelica Huston, even in her brief scenes, is quite radiant as Adamís mother.
At a running time of 1 hour and 49 minutes, 50/50 manages to be funny, heartfelt, well-acted and refreshingly honest. Itís one of the best movies of the year.
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