Movie review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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Before you can utter: “The Fault in Our Stars”, here comes another teen film about a girl stricken with cancer. And to make things worse, there are 2 guys fawning over the girl.

Rest easy though, because despite first impressions, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is not a John Green movie. There are still teary moments but sans the sappiness. In fact, the film is billed as a comedy and has plenty to offer past cathartic crying.

Written by Jesse Andrews based on his original 2012 novel, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl follows the story of Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann), Earl Jackson (Ronald Cyler II) and the dying girl, Rachel Kushner (Olivia Cooke). Greg is a socially inept high school kid who has adopted a chameleonic personality, blending into the background of all social dynamics. Alongside Earl, Greg pursues his interests in filming parody remakes of classic movies as high school life passes by.

But one day, Greg is informed by his mother that his childhood friend, Rachel, has been diagnosed with leukaemia. Owing to his reluctance to get close to others, Greg’s mother has to force him to meet Rachel in hopes of rekindling their friendship and providing some comfort to ill lass.

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Right off the bat, we have to commend this film for the visuals. Whilst it has the same pastel look shared by other teen drama films, its muted tones lend it a melancholic mood that really eases you into the story.

It has many memorable and poignant camera shots with stellar composition, such as scenes of conflict split in half, either by the different shades of the background or by objects in the foreground.

One aspect that any drama must have is a degree of realism, especially with the depictions of emotions and the inevitable conflicts. And Me and Early and the Dying Girl does a great job with this. For instance, scenes of Rachel’s wallowing emotional breakdown as she went through chemotherapy actually left us exasperated thanks to their realistic depiction. We were even reeling with fright during climatic arguments between Rachel and Greg because we had felt the same before.

There’s also a nod towards the film’s writing. It’s full of loveable trademark teenage sass with plenty of laughs scattered throughout, mostly from Greg’s antics and Mann’s excellent portrayal. The phenomenal script is also delivered with the interesting storytelling that weaves in animated segments and narration. They even filmed 21 short films as part of Greg and Earl’s film portfolio that were shown throughout the movie.

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But it’s not all glitter with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. We wished we had learned more about Mr McCarthy (Jon Gerthal), Greg and Earl’s history teacher or about Greg’s father (Nick Offerman), an eccentric psychology professor. They’re interesting characters, whose thought-provoking wise words would definitely add more oomph to the film.

And despite our plaudits for the cinematography, there are a handful of scenes with unflattering angles for the 3 protagonists. But then again, perhaps they were done on purpose. All teenagers do have their fair share of bad selfies at unflattering angles.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl isn’t a typical bawling sob-fest for you to clear your stock of Kleenex. It’s an intriguing and relatable tale of friendship and discovering yourself. It’s a shame that despite the awards this film has received, it hasn’t broken even at the box office.

 

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

What do you think of the growing number of teen films?

 

Information

Release Date: September 3

Runtime: 105 minutes

Language: English

Rating: TBA

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Main Actors: Thomas Mann, Ronald Cyler II, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Jon Bernthal

 

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros