Tuesday 18 December 2012
Devouring Films: 50/50
I realised that I probably shouldn't be watching 50/50 about 15 minutes in, when JGL's character got diagnosed with spinal cancer and I started crying. I realised I should probably turn it off when, having cried intermittently for the next hour, I started sobbing like I was crying over something that was actually happening. When actually, I suppose, I was crying about things that had already happened.
It wasn't pretty, either way.
But that's me. And I'm not saying that anyone else would just be fine with JGL pretending to have cancer, because really, it's harrowing, but I think it's that extra special bit more upsetting for anyone who has either a) had cancer themselves, or b) been a second party to the whole cancer experience. And that's because it's all so realistic- from diagnosis, to treatment, to JGL's feeling ill all. The. Time, it just really related to my second-party experience of it this year. And I don't know if it would have been any easier if I'd watched it in a few years, when it wasn't all so fresh, but... I doubt it.
But enough of my psychological scars (for now)! I think it's going to be hard for me to say anything objective about 50/50, but I will say that I think it's a pretty good film that I will probably never watch again. Which is a rare thing- usually when I think a film is good, I want to watch it more than once, but... Not this one. But this doesn't mean that I don't think anyone should watch it, just that I can't again. But you should. Probably. (See? Tricky.) A film about a 27 year old who is diagnosed with a fairly severe form of cancer is obviously (obviously!) never going to be a barrel of laughs, so I think you need to be in the right frame of mind to watch it, but not watching it isn't going to stop 27 year olds getting cancer in real life, whereas watching it might just give you a teensy idea of what that might be like. And an understanding of other people's viewpoints and experiences- isn't that exactly what books and films should strive to do? Exactly.
As for the actors, frankly I could have done without Seth Rogen's presence* (but then, I nearly always could) because this was never going to be a 'buddy comedy' and falls flat in the places where it most tries to be. JGL is, of course, magnificent, and I realise that I say this all the time, but seriously- if he hadn't been so convincing, I wouldn't have cried half as much, and he does it in a way that isn't horrible and obvious- it's like, because his character is fairly shut off from his emotions anyway, when they finally do break through it's heartbreaking. Which is, of course down to the writing as well as the acting, but... JGL does it well. Of course. Anna Kendrick is also good, and I found her really convincing as the slightly doe-eyed therapist who JGL really needs.
And I don't really think there's much more I can say. I was left completely drained by this film, and I still don't know if that's in a good way or a bad way, but I just know that I think it's pretty good/completely traumatising. And yet I still want you to watch it? I do. I think catharsis is important, I think it would be a shame to miss JGL's performance just because it might be upsetting (it's supposed to be) and apparently it's a dramadey, so... you might get some more humour out of it than I did. But either way, you will probably weep, and you know what? Maybe that's ok.
*Note: I just read about how this film came about, and... now I feel bad for saying that I could do without him in it. Since the dude who wrote the film and actually had cancer was actually his friend.... Hmm.