Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Cert: 12A

Running Time: 1hr 45 mins

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Cast: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Jon Bernthal, and Nick Offerman

Rating: ***1/2

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, is a witty, refreshing and heart-warming film, which incorporates an art house feel and many movie references which the loyal moviegoer will appreciate. On the surface this film may seem like a stereotypical tear jerker perhaps along the lines of The Fault in Our Stars. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, becomes so much more as it almost doesn’t fall into the category of a cliché. What is great about this film is that it has a depth, playfulness, a charm and a lot of kookiness.

The film presents main character Greg (Thomas Mann), a high school senior who blends in anonymously to avoid any deep or meaningful relationships within what he calls the ‘social minefield’ that is teenage life and high school. With the help of his constant companion Earl (RJ Cyler), who Greg considers more of a co-worker than a best friend, they make short film parodies of classic movies.  These aren't great but they provide the film with its art house entity and depth as they become more than a parody to Rachel as the film continues. With Greg happy to float through life alone, this changes when his mum insists that he spends time with Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a girl in his class who has been diagnosed with cancer. It is through this friendship that Greg discovers how worthwhile a true friendship can be.

On paper this film may sound like any other heart breaking coming of age movie, with three misfits who become enrapt with one another when they claim at the start that friendship or love is what they aim to avoid, but yet a love story will still prevail. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl differentiates from those cliché films by incorporating sharp quips and clever aphorisms, which are tossed out casually.  It holds enough humour to lighten what is essentially a hard and heavy subject matter, but does so without trivialising it as the film remains sadly profound. Whilst maintaining the tender and thoughtful moments (keep a box of tissues ready for your tears), the sarcastic humour, energetic camera work and the acting which is compassionate and intelligent keeps you engrossed in everything the film offers; the depth of the story, the visuals of the film and the relatability and empathy you have for each character.

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has stylized this film beautifully. Not only has he found a great balance of capturing those heart-breaking moments but he achieves a bullseye with every joke that is delivered, which are testaments to the actors who deliver wonderful performances. With the use of swooping camerawork, voice-overs, animation and intertitles, as well as the frequent scenes from Greg’s own parodies, the film is enticing to watch, yet never patronising to the audience or average cinema goer, but film enthusiast will be grateful for a director who shows the love of film within film without being too clever.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, is a great watch for all, it is funny, moving and original showing the depth of friendship and keeping to its tagline “A little friendship never killed anyone”. 

Written by Harley Gower.

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