Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a film festival darling and like most film festival darlings made almost no impact outside of the film festival circuit. It just about made its $8,000,000 budget back on its US release but no spectacular box office returns which is a shame because this film really deserves all the love it can get.
The ‘Me’ part of the title is the protagonist of the film Greg played brilliantly by Thomas Mann. Greg is a social awkward character who sees himself as a loner and deliberately isolates himself from other people and is desperate not to offend anyone. Match this with his incredibly dry wit, it would be all to easy for this character to become unbelievable annoying. But Mann’s nuanced performance stops that ever from happening. His parents are played by the majestic Connie Britton (of Friday Night Lights and American Horror Story fame) and Nick Offerman (from pretty much every funny film and TV series you have seen in the last few years, including ‘The Kings of Summer’ which I have helpfully already written about https://wordpress.com/post/georgeduffyfilm.wordpress.com/245). Connie Britton’s character is friends with Denise Kushner (Molly Shannon) the mother of ‘the dying Girl’ and after finding out that Rachel Kushner played by the immensely talented Olivia Cooke has leukaemia Greg’s mum persuaded Greg to go spend some time with her. Earl played by RJ Cyler is Greg’s only friend even if Greg refuses to call him his friend and they spend a lot of time together making films, usually parodies such as ‘A sock work orange’. You can see why these sort of jokes might go down better with a film loving audience than your more casual movie goer. After spending time together Greg and Rachel begin to bond but as Greg is so keen to point out only as friends and nothing more. When Greg’s crush Madison (Katherine C. Hughes) sees Greg and Earl making a movie one day she persuades Greg to make a movie for Rachel. That is definitely all you need to know before you go watch.
I won’t lie to you ‘Me and Earl and the dying Girl’ is a quirky film, hell even the title is quirky and if you hate that sort of film then maybe give this one a passes. But if you can deal with a little bit of the offbeat sort of film then you will love this. The movie is told almost exclusively through flash back though it doesn’t do that annoying thing of continually switching between time periods to the point where you have no idea what you are watching anymore. Instead it has occasionally Voice Over from Greg narrating his life, which seamlessly fits into the story. Greg lives in a world where everyone is divided into categories and his jobs is to not annoy or become friends anyone category in fear of upsetting another set of people. This is actually the most annoying element of the film as you don’t think anyone is actually that weird and in really life people don’t exclusively just hang out with one group of people like it appears in this film. However, this device does mean that Greg hangs out with his teacher Mr. McCarthy (Jon Bernthal) who has been popping up everywhere and outshining everything around him ever since he appeared in ‘The Walking Dead’ and every time he is on screen the film becomes just a little bit better. At the begin of the film Greg and Rachel really don’t seem to get on very much with Greg making it very obvious that he is only visiting Rachel because his Mum told him too. A relationship though is fairly quickly built and it is this relationship which is why you forgive all of the rest of the films quickness because whatever else is slightly off from reality about this film the relationship between Rachel and Greg certainly is not. You really believe that is how these two people are and how they would react. This is due in no small part due to the brilliant script written by Jesse Andrews adapting his own novel of the same name.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl obviously does deal with leukaemia and the devastating affects this has on one’s body and the film does not shy away from this, as it shouldn’t. But just a quick warning if you have suffered from leukaemia or know someone that has Me and Earl and the Dying Girl may play a little close to home. But in saying that, it is definitely not, just a depressing film. It is a film full of heart and full of love and demonstrates the true power of a friendship. A film definitely worth your time.
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