I heart Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I love that he’s so young, and yet he has this innate ability to disappear into a role. There are actors twice his age who have yet to master this. Oh, and he’s cute. Really cute.
50/50 should have been far more depressing than it was. Set in “Seattle” (any true Seattlite will take one look at the cinematography and let out a snort of derision. The movie was CLEARLY filmed in Vancouver, as evidenced by the Lion’s Gate Bridge in the opening scene.), Adam thinks all he really has to worry about is keeping his vapid girlfriend happy and finishing a piece on volcanoes for his local NPR station. Except it turns out, the back pain he’s been dealing with? Cancer.
He enters a world of treatment, pot, friends using his illness to pick up women, and more pot. His girlfriend cheats on him, the therapist he’s been assigned to (played by Anna Kendrick) is socially inept, and his best friend (played by Seth Rogan, always fun to watch) takes full advantage of the sympathy points he gets by helping his friend get through his illness.
My favorite scene was when Adam is sitting his chemo chair, trying very hard to refuse the marjiuana-laced macaroons being offered to him. He caves, and as he’s exiting the hospital after chemo, he’s so damn happy. He passes all these tragic tableaux, and all he can do is smile. It’s hilarious. Another scene finds him in the backyard behind his house, tearing into a painting given to him by his now ex. He rips at the canvas, sets it on fire, covers it with eggs, and in the end, decides it actually looks better than it originally did.
I probably would have loved this movie even if it hadn’t starred Gordon-Levitt. It’s well told, well acted, and I think I can forgive them for using a substitute Seattle (Vancouver is, after all, a lovely city in its own right). It reminds you that even in the most depressing, awful, darkest holes, it’s still possible to laugh. And laugh often.