DVD Review : 50/50
50/50 is based on the true story of writer Will Reiser who developed a rare form of cancer in his early twenties. The film came out last year to generally favourable reviews and features Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam, a 27 year old writer for radio who has to contend with his tumour and all that chemotherapy entails as well as the eponymous chances of survival. He is supported by Seth Rogen as his best friend Kyle, Anna Kendrick as his therapist and Angelica Huston as his mother.
The central relationship in the film is a bromance between Adam and Kyle and unfortunately it’s at the expense of all the other relationships in Adam’s life. He treats his mother in a shockingly unsympathetic way by ignoring her calls and paying little attention to how his unfavourable diagnosis has affected her as she also cares for his father who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Bryce Dallas Howard has little chance to make a well-rounded character out of Adam’s girlfriend Rachael who also struggles with the reality of having a boyfriend who has cancer. Their relationship is relatively new at the time of Adam’s diagnosis and although he gives her an opportunity to leave him she attempts to keep their relationship going. When she fails and is seen flirting with another man by Kyle he exposes her with such unabashed glee that it’s uncomfortable to watch and he later convinces Adam to violently destroy a painting she made for him.
50/50 lives up to its name by being half moving, funny and humane and half smug, angry andbitter. The film could have been a little more likeable if it had dispensed with such vitriol against Rachel and looked again at the scenes where Adam and Kyle use the former’s diagnosis as a way to pick up girls and give them a night of unsatisfactory and meaningless sex. The writer also manages to give Adam no negative qualities whatsoever, aside from his treatment of his mother it is Rogen who acts as a conduit for bad behaviour like a little cartoon devil on Adam’s shoulder.
Cancer sufferers and survivors have praised the film’s realism and it does have its genuinely funny and affecting moments, however it also has a bitterness which overpowers the sweetness rather than complimenting it.
Extra features consist of deleted scenes, commentary from Rogen, Reiser, director Jonathan Levine and producer Evan Goldberg. Reiser admits that in his true story his girlfriend stayed with him and was of huge support, and that the reactions of Rachael are an amalgam of how his various friends and acquaintances dealt with his cancer. There is a featurette “The Story of 50/50” and some “Life Inspires Art” featurettes which show the actual scenes in the film which happened in real life.
50/50 is available on DVD and Double Play from today