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Reel Views: 50/50 a touching story of friendship

Alison McGee | Interrobang | Lifestyles | October 17th, 2011

When Will Reiser was diagnosed with cancer, he had two things on his side: a killer sense for screenwriting and a loyal friend in Seth Rogen. From these elements emerged the film 50/50, which tells the story of Reiser's real-life battle with a rare and often fatal form of cancer.

In the film, the central character is Adam, who has a difficult girlfriend, an overprotective mother and a truly devoted best friend. After suffering from chronic back pain, Adam is unceremoniously diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that has a 50 per cent survival rate. After discovering that his girlfriend is cheating on him and finding his mother difficult to lean on for support, Adam turns to his friend Kyle, who provides unfaltering support. Through chemotherapy, major spinal surgery and the loss of a fellow patient, Adam — with Kyle by his side — fights for his life.

Adam, the fictionalized version of Reiser himself, is brought to life by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who fans will know from Inception and 3rd Rock From the Sun. Gordon-Levitt does an absolutely fantastic job of bringing to life the complexities of both the character and the incredible situation that he is faced with. Through his comedic relief as well as his tear-jerking moments, Gordon-Levitt will have you feeling every emotion right along with Adam.

Kyle, Adam's best friend in the film, is played by Rogen, who actually isn't playing at all. Rogen was Reiser's main supporter through his battle with cancer, and nearly all of the things said and done by Rogen in the film were done by him in real life as well. What can I say? Rogen does a spot-on job of playing Rogen.

Bryce Dallas Howard takes on the role of Rachel, the difficult girlfriend who can't deal with Adam's illness. It would seem that Howard is truly in her prime playing less-than-nice-girl characters as she shines in every one of her scenes. Anna Kendrick plays Katherine, Adam's counselor turned love interest, and proves to be cute and charming as always. Finally, Anjelica Huston takes on the role of Adam's mother, Diane, whose ear-splitting whining about her son's health is both touching and irritating.

The thing that makes this film truly special is the fact that it is a personal story told by and in part acted by those who really lived it. Everything about 50/50 feels authentic, from the devastation felt by Adam upon hearing his diagnosis to Kyle's sickeningly funny faux pas regarding dressing Adam's post-op wounds. The moments of loss feel like true losses, just as the moments of triumph feel beautifully real.

This movie is a must-see for any Rogen fan, as he brings his usual wit and dark humour to the role, but also for everyone else. One word of advice, though: it's an emotional flick that most certainly will make you cry.
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