Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Connie Britton
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…a superb tearjerker…
Based on the sick-lit novel by Jesse Andrews, the ‘Me’ in the title alludes to seventeen-year-old loner Greg (Thomas Mann) who narrates his final year navigating the social battlefield that is high school; made even more arduous when his mother (Connie Britton) insists he befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a girl from his old Hebrew class who has just been diagnosed with stage IV leukemia.
Greg’s social unease is evident when he describes himself as a pudding with a rat face. He has only one friend (or ‘co-worker’ as Greg prefers to call him), an African-American boy named Earl (RJ Cyler) whom he has known since the age of six. The duo’s friendship is founded in a mutual passion for making amateur art house films and their collective lenience toward exotic meats, which was introduced to them at an early age by Greg’s eccentric and cultured father (Nick Offerman).
Initially unenthused by Greg’s disingenuous offer of companionship, the reality of Rachel’s deteriorating health is brought to light through the platonic nature of their simple relationship. There are spectacularly cringe worthy black humour moments, particularly with Rachel’s seductively fragile and boozy mother (Molly Shannon).
Well cast and with clever dialogue, the film emulates the high IQ ‘quick wit’ of the summer indie flick Juno. Unpredictable camera work paired with the repeated stop motion animation interludes nicely compliment the aspirations of the endearing filmmaking teens. The glimpses we get of Greg, Earl and Rachel’s parents are both an accurate and charming view of the love and shortcomings inside a family home.
Me and Earl & the Dying Girl is a superb tearjerker that skilfully captures the vulnerability that comes with intimacy and the bittersweet inevitability of life and death.