Posted under: Reviews
So far this year, we've already seen a whole slew of coming-of-age stories release - from Paper Towns to Diary of a Teenage Girl to Dope - but the latest to join the ranks, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, is, definitely, one of the more poignant, more memorable 'teen flicks' to release in recent memory - a culmination of everything that makes a great film.
Based on Jesse Andrews' novel of the same name, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl follows the quiet, reclusive Greg (Thomas Mann) - the 'Me' of the title. He's your typical nice guy, friends with everyone but just trying to keep a low profile and stay under the radar during his time in high-school. His childhood best-friend, or 'co-worker' as Greg refers to him as, is Earl (RJ Cyler) - the 'Earl' of the title, of course. The two have an enthusiasm for film and making films (their relationship mainly consisting of filmmaking), having been exposed to it at such a young age - there's a lot of nice film references thrown in here sure to make any keen movie-goer smile, through the title of the films they make like A Sockwork Orange, 400 Bros and Senior Citizen Kane to name a few.
However, when the girl down the street, fellow student, Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is diagnosed with leukemia - and so comes the 'Dying Girl' part of the title - things begin to take a turn for Greg. You see, his mother (Connie Britton) is friend's with Rachel's mother (Mollie Shannon) so he is forced to spend time with her and try to befriend her. So, when he reluctantly agrees, things are a bit weird at first but as the two begin to spend time together, in the company of Earl too (we can't forget about him now, can we), making films and just getting to know one another better, they become close and Greg finds that his life is changing so much as he begins to devote so much to Rachel.
The plot may sound pretty familiar; boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, there is a setback involved. Honestly, the premise isn't exactly groundbreaking or massively exciting on paper and instant comparison to last year's sleeper hit The Fault in Our Stars is a given. Yet, this film is nothing like the John Green teen drama. In fact, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is nothing like any teen drama, for that matter. This is, in fact, a heartfelt, funny, memorable, poignant and beautiful piece of cinema. You might think that you've seen this film before but, trust me, you haven't seen this film before; you haven't seen anything like this before. I can assure you that.
The acting in this never ceases to amaze. Mann excels as Greg, breathing life and energy into what can easily come off as an unlikable character. There's a sense of relatability to his awkward, reclusive character - the viewer can almost see themselves in him, relating to his struggle. He creates such an intriguing, layered character that you can't help but root for. Cyler does a good job as Earl too, made all the more impressive by the fact that he is a newcomer to the industry. However, it's Cooke who is the real standout here. She's a revelation as the 'dying girl', demanding your attention and making you sympathise for her yet her performance is so real and honest - in comparison to Shailene Woodley's idealistic portrayal of Hazel in TFIOUS. Everyone stuns in their roles, bringing a lot of charisma and wit to their characters and adding a real layer of depth and humanity to them too, grounding them and making the audience attach and root for them.
The characters themselves are all so compelling and layered and you get so invested in their lives, their stories and their interactions with one another. The dialogue is bubbly and flows so seamlessly, each word so natural yet believable - compared to the slick interaction and dialogue in Paper Towns. Andrews, who adapted the screenplay from his novel, has crafted such beautiful, raw, flawed human beings. The screenplay is so great, commenting nicely on the cliches with this genre. It's funny and heartfelt too, packing quite an endearing punch. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous too and this is one stylish, sleek, incredibly shot film too. However, towards the final act of the film, it almost becomes ironic since Me and Earl ends up succumbing to the problems it was talking about earlier. There's a lot of heart and emotion to this film, it's hilarious at parts but really depressing at others and, whilst it's a moving piece of work, the line between these tones gets a little blurred towards the finale.
Stylish and stunning, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a heartfelt, emotional and thoroughly entertaining film and one of the better coming-of-age stories in recent years.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.