Thursday, March 8, 2012

Big Screen Angst: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50

I'll admit, I debated about Angst Reporting 50/50. I didn't want to appear to be making a case that cancer is anything other than awful. But - SPOILER ALERT - considering the movie has a happy ending, and considering the true story has that same happy ending, and considering Joseph Gordon-Levitt is really attractive and also a great actor, I'm going to go ahead and do it. 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 JGL 50/50
The movie opens with Adam going about his daily life, jogging, working, getting coffee with his friend and hanging out with his douche-cat girlfriend. He has some ongoing pain issues in his back so he goes to the doctor. The doctor drops the C bomb with all the empathy of a shopping cart.  

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 JGL 50/50
Cancer at any age sucks, but there's a special quality to the blindsided-by-a-train component when one's only in their twenties. Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays that fear and uncertainty amazingly. You feel horrible for him just looking at him. And it's not just the illness that makes us feel for him. The lack of warmth from his doctor is one thing, but the lack of compassion he gets from his douche-cat girlfriend is just maddening. 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 JGL 50/50
I've mentioned the Florence Nightingale effect thing before. But it's intensified when there's a character on screen (douche-cat) who should be taking care of the ailing person but isn't. In 50/50, it's just a human decency thing. If your significant other is hurling in the bathroom from the effects of chemo - even if you're really not that into them anymore - they're still a person. Bring them some water or a cool towel. Something. 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 JGL 50/50
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 JGL 50/50
Anyway, that's where the Angst Report thing comes in. When there's a character who makes you want to just jump through the screen to help him out - give him a ride home, bring him a blanket, distract him, it's because of the angst. And 50/50 is a movie that begs you to judge douche-cat and therefore imagine all the things she should be doing but isn't. She's a significant component to the angst part of this character and why you just feel so damn awful for him. Literally leaving him out in the cold? After chemo? Is she actually the devil because who would do that?!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 JGL 50/50
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 JGL 50/50
Plus - like I've mentioned - JGL is a great actor; a great emoter. Look at that face. That's a face you want to make smile. Saddness be gone!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 JGL 50/50
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 JGL 50/50
And then cancer is removed, girlfriend replaced, and smiles return. Yay!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam in 50/50 JGL 50/50
50/50 is a sweet movie with a lot of heart. There's charm and humor and a lovely arc with just about the happiest ending you could hope for. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is good at angst - he's done it plenty of times before - and 50/50 puts his angst abilities on full display. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

5 comments:

  1. Excellent angst report! I LOVE JGL, and have since Third Rock & 10 Things I Hate About You. He is just awesome, and SO good at the angst thing (and nice to look at, obviously). Oh, and I totally think that douche-cat is the devil. :) Thank gawd for the lovely replacement girlfriend! Thank you for reporting on 50/50, you ROCK!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yay! I'm glad my writing about a character with cancer didn't seem creepy :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. as someone who was diagnosed with cancer twice before the age of 30 and actually told they had a 50/50 chance of keeping it away for ONE year, it took me awhile to watch this movie. i was given those odds FOUR years ago and as i write this i am still cancer free. (side note: oral cancer has only a 56% 5 yr survival rate. non smoking young people are getting it at an alarming rate, mostly due to HPV. if your dentist doesnt do an oral cancer screen at visits, find one who does. the reason it is so deadly is that is often discovered in its late stages). sorry, i feel it necessary to get the word out every chance i can.
    anyway, having been diagnosed the 1st time at 28, i've had surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and reconstruction in the last 5.5 yrs. i have to give serious credit to joseph gordon-levitt for his portayal. it was incredible. and i know from other young cancer survivors that we all feel the same about this movie. cancer is totally angsty. THANK YOU for covering this movie in the angst report! kind of makes up for the lack tate (though that is only the fault of ryan murphy) :D ps. writing about cancer isnt creepy :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks so much for the comment, Pammie! Congrats on four cancer-free years!

    I loved 50/50 and I loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance. I didn't mean to sound like I thought writing about cancer was creepy. I was only worried about trivializing it by putting it into The Angst Report context. Hopefully I avoided that...

    I tend to make light of a lot of serious things (like drug addiction and self harm) but I feel in a fictionalized television show, there's a certain amount of leeway there. That doesn't really translate to 50/50 which was really aiming for staunch realism. Really, I'm just glad the post hasn't seemed to offend anyone. That was all I was really concerned with :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. you're welcome! and thank you! i dont think anyone could find offense in that post :D
    and that should say LACK OF TATE (not lack tate, lol). oops.

    ReplyDelete