Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Reviewed by Mitch Burns
Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (The Town that Dreaded Sundown)
Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cylar, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Connie Britton, Katherine C. Hughes, and Jon Bernthal.
Greg (Thomas Mann), or Me in the film’s title, is invisible, He gets along with almost everyone in the school, but he blends in. He knows everyone, but no one really knows him. He has one friend, who he calls a co-worker, and that’s Earl (RJ Cyler), He calls him his co-worker because they make films together, funny rehashes of classic films.
One day Greg’s mother (Connie Britton) forces him to call Rachel (Olivia Cooke), AKA the Dying Girl. Rachel has been diagnosed with Leukemia and Greg awkwardly begins hanging out with Rachel, until they actually do become friends. Earl, Greg and the Dying Girl begin to hang out, and so begins an odd, yet incredibly real friendship.
The story is about Greg, and his friendships with Earl and Rachel, it’s about his friendship with both of them, and each of them separately. The audience becomes spectators upon a very authentic view of High School, friendships and how it feels to deal with a deadly disease, from the angle of the sick person and their friends. Youth today are rarely represented as well as they are here, the awkwardness of growing up and being forced to handle situations well beyond their years is bravely shown here.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has heart, and if you’re known to cry during movies, bring tissues, but fuck this film is really, really funny. The main character Greg is someone you would want to be best friends with, he’s comical, honest and unique. Earl and Greg seem like an odd pair, but together they are wonderful, and both are compelling enough characters to be remembered.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has quite possibly the best cast of the year, even beyond the three main stars and their incredible chemistry. From Connie Britton and Nick Offerman as Greg’s quirky but genuine parents, to Molly Shannon as Rachel’s wine drinking mother, Jon Bernthal as a tough ass teacher, and even miniscule acting flourishes from around the high school these kids attend.
Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon seems to be a very talented man, I can’t wait for him to do more work. This film feels as if Wes Anderson made a more linear Drama/Comedy, if that makes any sense, you can feel that Gomez has been influenced by Anderson greatly.
The film has some flaws, certain portions or characters traits that may distract some from loving it as much as I did. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked Greg, but I quickly realized I adored him. Rachel’s wine-drinking, younger-man loving, mother Denise, played by Molly Shannon, isn’t very funny and she’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s tolerable. At times I was confused by the relationship between Greg and Rachel, but I sense that may have made the film that much better in the end.
Overall, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is as beautiful and poignant as it is hilarious and sincere. It’s a film that will stick with me throughout the year, and I can see myself recommending it to many.
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