Synopsis: High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke
Release Date: 3 September 2015
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl stars Thomas Mann as Greg (you might remember him from “Project X”), RJ Cyler as Earl (he’s a great acting newby) and Olivia Cooke as Dying Girl aka Rachel (“Ouija”). In the movie you’ll also find Nick Offerman as Greg’s Dad (“Parks & Rec”), Connie Britton as Greg’s overbearing Mum (“Nashville”) and Molly Shannon as Rachel’s Mum Denise (shitload of stuff…like “Never Been Kissed”).
It’s a great cast, and one that works together perfectly to tell the story of self-loathing Greg, a high school senior who makes parodies of his favourite films with co-worker Earl (he won’t call people friends) and finds his life changed after befriending his classmate who’s been diagnosed with cancer.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a coming of age story, however a number of beautiful things tie this story together to make it special, such as the many classic and foreign movie references that present themselves as gorgeous stop-motion animation and live-action films that Greg and Earl create.
The film revolves around these short films (42 that they’ve made in total) with titles such as Eyes Wide Butt, 2:48 Cowboy, and the brilliant A Sock Work Orange.
(Their Instagram is full of these cool clips btw, definitely worth having a check out).
These works were so important and such a challenge for Director Gomez-Rejon that he ended up putting together an entire separate unit to create the 21 short films seen in the movie. The films are strongly influenced by Scorsese whom Gomez-Rejon once worked for.
The other special aspect of this film in my opinion is the astute mature acting of Olivia Cooke who commits fully to her role as the cancer-riddled Rachel- she maintains the innocent youthfulness of a high school senior while showing her struggle to maintain who she is as she deteriorates and is faced with difficult decisions.
In the film we are seeing everything from Greg’s single-world point-of-view and his relationships with his friends, what isn’t touched on so much is the relationships of the friends to their parents. While the single POV of Greg is one of the charms of the movie, it would have been good to learn a bit more about their other relationships, in particular Rachel’s alcoholic mother, or Earl’s hard upbringing on the other side of town. In addition to this some of the shots are over-thought and unnecessarily complicated- such as hand-held cams held at waist height or flipping sideways which I sometimes found dizzying.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a mature teen movie that leaves the rest in it’s dust. It’s funny, sweet, smart and sad. While I won’t give anything away, the ending of this movie wraps everything up in a gorgeous metaphor that makes it truly worth seeing.
EDIT: We incorrectly listed the release date as July 31st instead of September 3rd. Our apologies!