No One Wants to Fuck Monday Movies. We Look Like Voldemort.
50/50 is funny and sad at a perfect pitch — it’s hard not to spend the entire movie laughing and crying, each an engine for the other. Since Mysterious Skin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been my favorite young actor. He made (500) Days of Summer almost very good and Inception pleasant to look at in parts. He plays Adam, a twenty-something public radio journalist diagnosed with cancer, and a stick up his ass. Adam’s native emotional constipation turns dangerous with the arrival of his cancer, as his support network is patchy at best and he will need more than he can count on.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays his terrible girlfriend Rachael, whom he gives a chance to bail and who rejects it. Perhaps you’ve had a partner like Rachael. She can be distinguished by her need for your approval, which is much louder than her affection for you; as the latter fades away, she will affect ever more monstrous falsities in order to retain the former. There’s something hatable about Bryce Dallas Howard in this role. A lot of it is in her eyelashes. At times maybe 50/50 has its thumb on the scale against her. But mostly you can see where she’s coming from. You can see how cancer would turn a bad girlfriend terrible.
Anna Kendricks plays his therapist, two years younger than he is. She too is out of her depth, but she’s slightly less terrible a therapist than Rachael is a girlfriend.
Angelica Huston plays his mother Diane, also needy, even more empathetic. Perhaps you’ve had a mother like Diane. Adam tries to keep her in the dark because her emotions are a little louder than his. When he finally calls her to ask for help, she answers the phone shouting, “What’s wrong?”
Seth Rogen plays his best friend. Could you ask for a better best friend? Seth Rogen is not as chubby as he used to be, but he’s still a fine Falstaff, going so far as to teach Adam how to use his diagnosis to get laid. At the dawn of bromance, I said that Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers made homosocial expressions of desire look like “the only kind of sex anyone would ever want to have,” and Rogen carries that flame. Apparently Rogen himself played a similar role for screenwriter Will Reiser when he underwent the events that inspired the movie.
This is a lovely movie about friendship, disease, family, suffering and love. Ultimately, a light one. Mrs. K-sky has two friends fighting cancer, both surprisingly young, though not as young as Adam. This is a short movie. Adam has a short cancer. Death is in the movie, but at the margins. If Will Reiser told half of his story in those 100 minutes, then he was one of the very lucky ones.
What did you see, and how did you like it?
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