I’m someone who’s kinda icky going into ‘teen romantic-comedy/coming-of-age’ movies because well, I personally find them to be sentimental, sappy and overly melodramatic, yup, I didn’t like The Fault in Our Stars either. So I kinda had the same feeling going into Me and Earl and the Dying Girl even though the trailers pitched it as anything but that.
Boy, was I pleasantly surprised…and charmed.
So, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, if you’ve heard about it, is this year’s indie-gem. It won both the Audience and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the film basically follows the story of Greg (Thomas Mann), a high-school kid who doesn’t like making friends, he’s someone who’s managed to be part of every social group in his school without actually being friends with of the kids. Instead he spends most of his time making parodies of classic films with his only friend Earl (RJ Cyler), who Greg refers to as his co-worker. However, things change drastically when Greg befriends Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a class-mate just diagnosed with cancer.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a film, I feel could easily have been that sappy, sentimental and overly melodramatic film I feared it would be, because it easily could have made cancer the center of it’s story but it is merely the backdrop and there isn’t the slightest bit of mawkish sentimentality to be found in this film. And I must say it is easily one of the most beautiful, emotionally resonant, charming and heartbreaking films I’ve seen in a long time.
Where can I begin to describe my love for this film? Well, let’s start with how meticulously constructed it is. American Horror Story director, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s endlessly innovative work behind the camera really helps in elevating the movie. As I mentioned, one of the subplots involves Greg and Earl making parodies of old classics like: A Clockwork Orange, Mean Streets, The Seventh Seal, into say, A Sockwork Orange, Grumpy Cul-de-Sacs and The Seven Seals and just the attention to detail with these films is remarkable and really funny.
And the film is more funny than I expected it to be and for that credit goes to Jesse Andrews’s wonderful screenplay, adapted from his own book by the same name, which manages to find that perfect balance between comedy and poignancy and effectively drive the film at each turn, and performances compliment Rejon and Andrews work so well. Thomas Mann, R.J Cyler and Olivia Cooke, all give revelatory central performances. Mann and Cooke to an even greater extent and they inject the film with so much pathos and so much heart that it’s impossible not to be touched by the film and their performances. And the film’s remaining supporting cast which comprises of, Nick Offerman, Jon Bernthal, Molly Shannon and Connie Britton do a really great job as well, particularly Offerman who’s a consistent scene-stealer, along with Cyler.
All together, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is just one of the most beautiful and heartwarming films of the year. It’s well-directed, wonderfully written and superbly acted and touched me on so many levels.