Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Whenever Hollywood is running low on inspiration, it always has books to fall back on. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a comedy-drama adaptation of a 2012 novel of the same name, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. Greg (Thomas Mann) is an awkward teenager who is forced by his parents to befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a classmate he has hardly spoken to since kindergarten who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. Although it sounds set up for a depressing watch, most of the time it’s anything but.
Greg is a sensitive, self-impaled outcast in school who likes to twist and remake famous films with his only friend, Earl (RJ Cyler). Snippets of them permeate along the way and provide moments of inventive humor, mainly in brilliant titles such as A Sockwork Orange and 2:48pm Cowboy. They are eventually convinced to use their quite precious filmmaking skills to produce an original work as a gift for Rachel. Over time, the relationship between Greg and Rachel grows into a touching friendship: he giving support for her physical condition and, collaterally, she for his emotional inferiority issues.
Cooke’s development of Rachel’s illness is noteworthy but Mann’s acting gleams in particular, like a funnier Jessie Eisenberg. There is the perfect outlet in him for the adolescent gaucheness that some adult viewers will surely remember from their youth. It’s character-rich — Greg’s kooky, cultured father and Rachel’s ”Mrs Robinson” mother are two of the best — but it’s also prone to lazy stereotypes in Earl (he’s black), Scott (he’s an emo) and Phil (he’s a drug-dealer). Plus scrapes Greg finds himself in come across like slices of forced storyline.
The influence of Wes Anderson in the directional quirks is palpable; the surreal incident of Greg and Earl’s accidental drug experience is hilarious and the overlaying meta-narrative ends up being skillfully integral to the plot, balancing laughter and sadness with great knack. There are many accomplishments in this delicate portrayal of teenagers dealing with things they really shouldn’t have to at their age and, for that, it succeeds.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is released nationwide on 4th September 2015.
Watch the trailer for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl here: