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50/50 brings light to a dark subject

Onyinyechukwu Igboanugo | Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Inspired by a true story loosely based on the screenwriter Will Reiser, “50/50” is a story about friendship, love, family and how all these play an essential role in helping us get past our struggles and challenges in life.

It also shows how anyone can have a good laugh even at the saddest of times. The movie uses sarcasm to enforce the tragic-comic effect, which makes scenes humorous despite the sad circumstances.

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Kyle (Seth Rogen) are best friends, and Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) is Adam’s girlfriend. Adam goes to the doctor to complain of back pains and discovers that he has a rare type of cancer that leaves him with a 50 percent chance of survival. He finds it difficult to accept this after living a very healthy lifestyle.

Adam has to undergo chemotherapy in order to reduce the tumor in his spine. When he finds out that his cancer is not responding to the treatment, his last resort is to undergo surgery. During this period, Adam struggles to accept his fate, and the events that take place during this period change his view of life.

Adam learns the importance of friendship because his best friend, Kyle, stands by him throughout this period. He learns the importance of love as he splits up with his girlfriend but then falls in love with his psychiatrist. He also recognizes the importance of family as he finally opens up to his worried mother and expresses his love to his sick father.

Adam’s character is, more or less, the detached, calm, sarcastic one. This is in direct contrast to Kyle, who has a wild, open, impulsive and out-going personality. Kyle is always straight to the point about his intentions. Adam’s mother, Diane (Anjelica Huston), acts as any mother in this situation would. Katherine, his psychiatrist, is a caring but confused character.

The best parts of the movie were the saddest and yet most bitingly sarcastic moments. The environment in the movie is dull, allowing the audience to perceive the sad, solemnity of the situation.

The story line also seems completely realistic, making it easy for viewers to feel some kind of empathy when watching the movie. Despite the depressing story line, the characters relate to each other in a sarcastic way that made the different scenes both funny and sad. Achieving this level of complexity is a testament to the effective directing.

The choice of actors is also spot-on. As seen in “500 Days of Summer” and “Inception,” Joseph Gordon is easily able to play the role of a calm and somewhat detached person. Rogen, who has starred in comedy movies like “Superbad,” easily fit the role of Kyle in this movie. Kyle is the life of the movie and the center of most of the funny scenes.