The thirteenth film in the 30 Day Film Challenge is Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I decided to watch this movie because of the Oscars’ My Movie Year challenge, which lists out all the films from 2015 and asks you which ones have you seen. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was one of the films I haven’t watched, so I decided to give this film a go, especially since it was a darling at Sundance and has been received well by critics and moviegoers alike.
Based on a YA novel of the same name, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl tells the story of Greg (Thomas Mann), an awkward high school senior who wants to quietly finish school without any drama. He is a social hermit and prefers to make movies with his only friend Earl (R.J. Cyler), whom he actually has trouble calling “friend” and calls “co-worker” instead. However, Greg’s plans to live quietly gets turned upside down when his mother asks him to befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a classmate who has been diagnosed with stage 4 leukemia.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a touching coming-of-age film that perfectly captures the awkwardness and difficulties that come with growing up. The characters are genuine, and they are also relatable, especially Greg. From feeling insecure about his appearance to worrying about fitting in and life after high school, Greg is a character with universal struggles that every teenager has at some point faced. He also goes through experiences most teens have, ranging from lighter moments, like the nervousness of having your crush talk to you, to growing pains, like dealing with loss. The universal nature of the film’s characters and content is what makes this film so compelling and powerful because it reminds us of our own adolescence and brings back personal, and perhaps bittersweet, memories of growing up.
The relationship between the two leads is touching as well. Unlike the romance we see in other supposedly similar films such as The Fault in Our Stars, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl chooses to portray a platonic relationship instead. Yet this relationship is still powerful and filled with a love that becomes a potent source of solace and change for both characters. It is also a relationship that is pure, removed of lust and only filled with honesty and a genuine desire that the other person would live well. This purity and sincerity makes this relationship unique and moving.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is also filled with humorous moments that lighten the mood, like the clever titles Greg and Earl give their parodies of classic movies. But the humor also lends itself to the film’s authenticity, for it happens naturally and doesn’t feel forcibly inserted. The humor is often in-character or fitting for the situation, and it serves as a fresh and entertaining way to describe growing up. For example, Greg’s self-deprecating humor suits his personality, and it also serves as a unique and funny way of accurately describing what it’s like to be a teen.
Other noteworthy aspects of the film includes its cinematography, which features interesting angles, captions, stop-motion animation, and mise-en-scene. The cinematography along with a good script and great cast make Me and Earl and the Dying Girl a touching film that naturally draws out emotions from the audience and creates a personal connection that few other coming-of-age films have done. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is endearing and relatable, and it will definitely remain a timeless classic for those who’ve watched it.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Writer: Jesse Andrews
Cast: Thomas Mann, R.J. Cyler, Olivia Cooke
Run time: 1 hr 44 min