Saturday, November 5, 2011


This is not a movie review. I am just home from seeing the movie "50/50," the story based on the experiences of its writer, Will Reiser. I have to admit that I expected this movie to be somewhere between sucks and stupid. For one, Seth Rogen tends to play the same character over and over in movies that are painfully dumb and shallow; he plays his usual character here, too. Secondly, my mother and brother recommended this, which was enough to make me bet my home that it was not going to be good (sorry mom and brother).

Surprisingly, "50/50" is a sweet, tender, funny, sad, fragile, and sensitive film that deals with the struggles of having cancer and human relationships in all their forms.

As a cancer survivor, I got a chill from watching the cold-hearted and detached doctor telling the Joseph Gordon-Levitt character, Adam, that he has cancer. The doctor reminded me so much of that day, February 1, 1999, when Dr. K___ told me I had cancer with nary a hint of feeling, compassion or understanding. I could feel Adam's shock and sense of confusion in those filmed moments.

I also felt the tinges of painful remembrance as Adam walks down the hall after his first chemo treatment. My memories returned to radiation sessions I had or more recent visit to Sloan Kettering for exams, biopsies and blood tests. As you leave, at least for me, you tend to notice people as if you can see through them. You observe and feel more deeply. Adam, though stoned from marijuana-laced macaroons, experiences this, and you see with him in a way that is artistically filled with depth and awareness.

You feel Adam's mortality throughout the movie despite his coolness and seeming refusal to succumb, until, finally, he admits his angers and fears. You are touched by his realization that his mother, though overbearing, means well and loves him. And you ultimately appreciate his best friend, the Seth Rogan character, Kyle, who stands by Adam 100% throughout.

While it was hard to come to terms with the relationship Adam develops with his therapist, Anna Kendrick's, Katherine, for its unlikeliness, Kendrick portrays Katherine with such a soft combination of gentle, awkwardness and determined support, you dismiss the weakness and appreciate her role in helping Adam through his struggles.

So this is not a review of "50/50," so much as it is my connection to it as a cancer survivor who was touched. One last thing, too: For all the single women out there, did I mention I am a cancer survivor?

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