Friday, 2 December 2011

50/50, dir Jonathan Levine, wr. Will Reiser, st. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Angelica Huston

Just when you think you've smugly got this film sussed out, there's a subtle and fluid gear change around the halfway mark; the smut and superficial bromance is replaced by what is, at its core, a remarkably simple and heartbreakingly poignant shift in tone that delicately explores the spectrum of emotions and experiences Gordon-Levitt's Adam Lerner faces in the days leading up to his last chance op. When he finally succumbs to the Kübler-Ross model his stoicism has tried so hard to keep at bay, the film side-steps an impressive count of insipid Cancer Movie clichés, the most satisfying being the way the relationship is developed between Adam and his trainee counsellor Katie McKay; she too has been unceremoniously flung into the deep end and asked to simply manage. Kendrick's shy dorkiness and the way Gordon-Levitt can turn on a dime from pragmatism to fear are the film's life-giving beating heart. Rogen too, eternal frat-boy that he is, retains credibility as Adam's twatish yet loyal friend Kyle, and Dallas Howard is suitably shifty as the girlfriend with one foot all too readily out the door. Hollywood has run the gamut over the years in how it depicts death and dying, and Levine's propensity to score transitional scenes with songs from the "MONTAGE" playlist on his iPod aside, here's a film that's satisfyingly direct and honest.