Finally. Finally a movie from 2011 that I can say with full confidence "I loved that." The year has had some pretty solid films...but there was almost always something that kept me from adoring them. Well, yesterday 50/50 made its way to DVD and you better believe I picked it up the first day it was available and gave it a watch. With two of my favorite actors working today in Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen (yeah. I said it. I don't get the Rogen hate...I think he's incredibly hilarious even if he is playing modified versions of himself all the time.) The previews and reviews kept my expectations pretty high, but as I learned with Like Crazy (which I still admittedly need to give a second viewing,) nothing is a sure guarantee that you'll LOVE it.
So, with my expectations in check as much as they possibly could be, I watched it...still pretty much expecting it to bowl me over. And it did...but in a much more simple way than I was really anticipating. In fact, I think most of the beauty of the film was in its simplicity. Nothing felt really heavy handed to me. I think this is because this is definitely a character-based film. It works because it is driven by these characters' complexities in reacting to the situation that the film is centered around, and then how they relate to each other as a result of their response to the conflict. The film succeeds largely due in part to the real strength of this cast. Besides the obvious JGL-- Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Anna Kendrick and Seth Rogen each bring a depth and humanness to their characters that in lesser hands could have come off as one dimensional. But each of them all find a way to really make their characters seem complex, lived-in and relatable....and it is because of this that we care about them.
One of the biggest feats the movie is able to pull off is the effortless balance between drama and comedy. It's not easy to keep them balanced, as one side usually takes over completely. But the likability of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's everyman character Adam makes all sides (whether it is the painful, the scary, the inspiring and the humorous side) of the journey feel completely real and natural. This doesn't feel manipulative, it feels honest and real. Basically, I think this movie paints a very beautiful and interesting portrait of life-- complete with its ups and downs...and that honesty is worth watching. One of my favorites of 2011 for sure. 9/10