Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Review: Quirky teen tear-jerker

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke

Please note, this review contains minor spoilers.

The Overview

High school student Greg (Mann) is coerced by his mother to take a break from making terrible films with his co-worker (and sort of friend) Earl (Cyler) and befriend a girl from his school who has been diagnosed with leukemia. Greg and Rachel (Cooke) form an unlikely bond and Greg attempts to make a film with Earl in order to make her happy.

The Good

Wow. Where to start? Me and Earl and the Dying Girl could have been just another The Fault in Our Stars, however it ditches the romance in favour of an honest, thought-provoking and touching tale of friendship in the unlikeliest of circumstances. From the word go it is very honest about the sort of film it is going to be, however it doesn’t take the route you would expect.

It’s quirky and clever without being too twee or knowing, and surprisingly funny in places as well. The film pastiches created by Greg and Earl are particularly hilarious; my personal favourite is ‘A Sockwork Orange’, a retelling of course of A Clockwork Orange but with sock puppets. Genius!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl sits somewhere between The Fault in Our Stars and (500) Days of Summer (they were both made by the same studio) – yes it is another “kids with cancer” film and could be considered a non-traditional romance like (500) Days, however there isn’t really any romance at all. Greg and Rachel’s friendship is purely platonic throughout the film, and Greg’s narration alludes to the fact that in a normal film they probably would have been madly in love by now. This film is actually pretty meta, but in a subtle way; after Earl’s initial introduction, Greg later narrates “This is Earl, you might remember him from fifteen minutes ago”. This is really interesting considering the film is also narrated by Greg who is telling the story as he is writing it.

Whilst this film is very touching and incredibly sad, it doesn’t try as hard to be sad (if that makes sense). The Fault in Our Stars was very deliberate in the tactics it used to make sure you were reaching for your Kleenex, however Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is sad because we truly care about the characters. To create this sadness and this emotion without the inevitable love story has to be commended.

It is also beautifully shot – I particularly liked the bits where the camera acted as Greg’s eyes. When he arrived at Rachel’s house and laid down, we saw her from his perspective so she appeared sideways. This wasn’t particularly clever, but was different and interesting.

The Bad

There really isn’t anything noticeably bad in this film – I absolutely loved it! I think though it might be a little bit indie and twee for some if this isn’t your sort of film. If you didn’t like Juno or (500) Days of Summer then you probably won’t like this film.

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too, but go with tissues! Obviously the title kind of hints that it might be sad, and it definitely is. However it is also really touching, funny and heart-warming. Critics are raving about it and rightly so. Go and see it, and see what all the fuss is about.

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.


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