Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer) is an average mid-20s male who has played by the rules his whole life. He keeps his body physically fit. He eats healthy. He doesn’t drink excessively. He’s faithful to his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help). He’s loyal to his best friend (Seth Rogen, The Green Hornet). And, most importantly, Adam is a great person. So when he’s diagnosed with a rare form of cancer with a 50 percent survival rate, he’s shocked. Out of all the people out there, why him?
An odd thing occurs when Adam breaks the new to the people closest to him. Everyone reacts badly to the news – that is, everyone but him. In the calm shock of survival mode, Adam is recommended by his doctor to frequently visit with a grief counselor (Anna Kendrick, Twilight) to help him come to terms and cope.
Your first reaction to 50/50 might be, “Why in the world would I want to watch a movie with such a dark and depressing story for leisure?” Well, there are several reasons: sure, it’s not the most upbeat film, but it’s inspiring; the story doesn’t focus so much on the outward effects of having cancer – the physical deterioration – no, it focuses on the inner effect, the bearer’s fight within to defeat the disease; the heavy material is blended with light weight and comical content, a perfect balance; 50/50 was written by a guy who went through this exact experience, so it’s genuine, honest and never – not even for one second – manipulative.
50/50 is a perfect film. There isn’t a single flaw. Nothing could have been done better. Each actor understands the intimate screenplay in such a way that they give the performances given are each actor’s best to date. And the director perfectly understands the tone of the film in such a way that he conveys the purpose of each scene to the audience. With a story revolving around delicate subject matter, the film is handled in a delicate manner. 50/50 is not a cheap ploy to tug at your heart strings. No, it’s a film with a purpose and a motive. It’s here to show you personally what it is like to go through cancer, to not know if you’re going to live to see your next birthday, to question the reason for your very existence and to show you what really matters in life.
Seeing hundreds of movies each year, it’s not often that a film has the power to stir me up emotionally – but on several different occasions throughout the film, 50/50 did. As my heart pounded in my chest, my throat tightened up and my eyes watered. When I looked to my wife, she had the same reaction. When I looked to the other critics, they, too, had the same reaction. And as I gazed across the audience of this sold-out advance screening, they all had the same reaction.
Very few films have the power to emotionally move you. 50/50 is one of them. More than just a film, it’s an experience. As you watch Adam go through cancer, you go through it too. And when you leave the theater, you come out a different person. A chaged person. A stronger person. A person with a different perspective and appreciation of life than you did before.
If something is holding you back from seeing 50/50, let it go. Perfect in absolutely every way, 50/50 could very well be nominated in every Academy Award category it qualifies. Not only one of the best films of the year, 50/50 is a rare masterpiece that will live on forever.
Photo credit: Summit Entertainment