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Views & Reviews Review

Laughter in the dark

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 14 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d8149
  1. Priya V Joshi, core medical trainee
  1. 1St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London W2 1NY
  1. priyavjoshi{at}

A new comedy on rare cancer has saving graces, despite its vision of the medical profession

A friend told me this week that she had cancer. What did I do? I cried. After she left I felt foolish. Had I been wrong to cry? From a clinical perspective, yes; as a friend and mother with children of a similar age, no. Before she told me, I felt that I knew what my friend was about to say, but I didn’t want to believe it. The idea of humour in this situation was inconceivable, yet it is through humour that the screenwriter Will Reiser has chosen to retell his own story of surviving cancer in the film 50/50.

Adam, 27, is diagnosed as having a rare, malignant spinal tumour. We follow his journey through diagnosis and treatment, with his best friend Kyle at his side. He is given a 50/50 chance of survival; hence the title of the film. The focus is the characters’ relationships and how they evolve in response to this life redefining challenge. …

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