50/50 is a 2011 biopic that explores the trials of facing terminal illness with candor and without over-dramatization. Based on a true story, this comedy follows Adam, a 27-year-old guy just diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that is fatal in half of all patients.
The movie is at once a comedy, a drama, and a romance – you’ll laugh one second and cry the next, and leave ultimately satisfied. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a writer for public radio living the life of an average twenty-something until he receives this life-shattering news. He hangs out with his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) and has a good relationship with his girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard). The two vow to see him through his treatment, and he is determined to live without fear of the life-threatening disease.
Despite his assertion that he’s doing fine, Adam is placed in weekly therapy sessions as part of his treatment, and ends up with a twenty-four-year-old therapist named Katherine (Anna Kendrick), who is still finishing grad school. Her frustrations over trying to find the right thing to say to help Adam, break from her academic training, and maintain a professional environment complement the raw and honest main story. As Adam attends chemotherapy and gets to know the other patients, learns more about himself and his relationship with his closest friends, and avoids facing the reality of his odds, we get a glimpse into the real life of terminally-ill patients.
Life with terminal illness is not only sad, or only scary, or only serious. It’s not only about the disease. Adam’s life is about his relationships with his friends, family, and girlfriend; it’s about work and his plans for his future; it’s about his father who has Alzheimer’s Disease; it’s about teaching Katherine to be a therapist — and, layered among all of this, it’s about facing an impending 50/50 chance of death at the age of twenty-seven.
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