Honest, humorous and realistically sombre, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is powerful piece of cinema
I’m not usually a fan of tear-jerker films but when I heard Me and Earl and the Dying Girl received a standing ovation at the Sundance Festival, I had to see what all the fuss was about… and I’m really glad I did.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a coming-of-age drama about an adolescent friendship in the midst of terminal illness. It tells the story of Greg (Thomas Mann), a high school student who spends his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl (RJ Cyler). Much to Greg’s annoyance, his parents force him to strike up a friendship fellow with classmate Rachel (Olivia Cooke) who has just been diagnosed with cancer. The film documents their friendship through the “best and worst of times” and delivers a strong message about the realities of life and death.
Honest, humorous and realistically sombre, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Its quirky style, spectacular script and superb cast performances make it a powerful piece of cinema that is sure to have a lasting impact on the audience.
Because of its subject matter, the film is often compared with the hugely popular The Fault in Our Stars but to be honest, the film is a classic in its own right. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s direction and cinematography is superb, showing off his inventiveness with stop motion animation, long panning shots, flashback sequences and long takes. The young cast also do a fantastic job of bringing heart and humour to a difficult subject matter.
Thomas Mann is superb as Greg, the sarcastic, self-loathing teenager who believes if he shuts everyone out of his life, he won’t have to deal with anything. His friendship with Rachel takes him through “the best and worst of times” and eventually shapes him into the person he will become.
Olivia Cooke gives a heartbreakingly realistic performance as Rachel, the young teenager battling leukaemia. The scene in which Rachel and Greg discuss Rachel’s treatment is completely genuine and superbly performed, showing both Cooke and Mann’s versatility as actors. RJ Cyler is also equally brilliant as Earl, Greg’s only friend and “co-worker”.
The first-class supporting cast help to keep the narrative fresh. Connie Britton and Nick Offerman are superb as Greg’s eccentric and slightly odd parents, as is Molly Shannon as Rachel’s mother, who spends the vast majority of the movie with a glass of white wine in one hand, drowning away the pain of her daughter’s plight. The Walking Dead fans will also recongise Jon Bernthal as the super cool history teacher, one of few adults who truly understands what Greg is going through.
Humorous, honest and incredibly sad, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl may not appeal to everyone but it certainly exceeded my expectations. A brilliant piece of cinema from director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is released in UK cinemas from 4 September 2015