Uplifting and comedic film

50/50 Entertainment One Rating: 14A 99 minutes

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a 27-year-old writer diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer and given a 50/50 chance of surviving in this comedy drama about living and dying with the big C.

His girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) finds living with the disease too difficult and leaves. His best friend (a typically crude Seth Rogen) turns out to be a better friend than he often appears, but is not above using the fact his friend is fighting cancer as a way to pick up women.

Luckily his therapist (Anna Kendrick) turns out to be warm and sympathetic, as opposed to a generally cool medical system, and Angelica Huston, playing his overprotective mom is there for him too.

Gordon-Levitt carries the film well, probably the best role in his career so far. You identify with him and feel for him and the film would not work otherwise. Writer Will Reiser is himself living in remisssion with a similar cancer, which gives the film authenticity, but having cancer is really much worse.

Incidentally, the film is set in Seattle but is obviously shot in Vancouver with some nice shots of Stanley Park and the harbour.

It isn’t easy to put so much humour and uplifting empathy into a film about fighting cancer but a winning cast (helped by the excellent script) pull it off. However, if you or someone close to you is fighting this disease this might be too hard to watch.

Rating: four deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.