Joseph Gordon-Levitt in '50/50': Betsy Sharkey's film pick
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has such natural ease as an actor that it’s easy to forget just how talented he is. That’s going to be harder to do after “50/50,” a film he carries, even with a fine ensemble cast that includes Anna Kendrick as his therapist and Seth Rogen as his noisy and nosy best friend.
Directed by Jonathan Levine, using a light touch with Will Reiser's screenplay, the story hangs on Gordon-Levitt's 27-year-old Adam finding out he has spinal cancer. His odds -- 50/50 -- give the film its name. The actor turns Adam into a living, breathing human of the sort whom you might actually meet –- not looking for pity, just trying to cope -– in emotional and physical terrain that is funny and touching in equal measure.
The role showcases the strength of the 30-year-old actor who has been working nonstop since he was 7: that keen ability to capture a character's humanity seen in countless performances. It’s what made him so charming, falling in and out of love in “(500) Days of Summer,” so cool as the kid in TV's “3rd Rock From the Sun.” Even as a crazy grifter who moves in and won't leave in the recent indie “Hesher,” he makes the insanity appealing enough that you don't mind if he stays for a while.
But with “50/50,” Gordon-Levitt reaches a new depth, giving real life to the prospect of death.
-– Betsy Sharkey
Photo: Anna Kendrick and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50." Credit: Chris Helcermanas-Benge / Summit Entertainment