Directed by Jonathan Levine
It’s probably a pretty daunting task – not making a tragedy out of cancer. Chances are you will come off an impossibly cynical bastard. Another danger lies in that you might easily get trapped by mawkishness and sentimentality, and that’s equally unforgivable. There’s no question that Jonathan Levine does teeter on the very edge of the latter in quite a lot of the film’s scenes, but he does succeed in the end – retaining both taste and edge.
It’s a predictable sort of start. Adam Lerner (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a rather average young journalist who learns one day that he is no longer like everyone else: he has cancer. Soon Adam’s cheating girlfriend (and a wannabe artist) dumps him, so that the only people who help Adam get through the painful and endless chemotherapy are his extraverted friend Kyle, his overprotective mother and… Katherine, a bright, supportive but inexperienced therapist. You can of course tell where it is going to go from there, but 50/50 is such a charming, well-acted, arresting little thing that you might end up purring with sympathy and pleasure.
It’s got plot problems, and the ending could have been a little more inventive (not that it’s not what you want), but the overall impression is good. No, 50/50 is not a comedy. Still, for all its depressive moments, it might be one of the lightest, most cheerful and just plain romantic films about cancer. Which probably is a good thing.