Another year brings another teen tragedy movie. However, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is far from generic, and it’s even further from being rubbish. The film is brilliant, endearing, evocative, and a really great time.
Me and Earl follows Greg (Thomas Mann), a lonely high schooler as he is forced to spend summer making friends with Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a girl who has leukaemia. As he does this, he is aided by Earl (RJ Cyler), his peculiar friend. To summarise, it’s a quirky comedy that works well on all levels; you laugh hard and cry harder. It’s rare to find a film that you can both connect with and enjoy, with few teen movies being relatable. Ordinarily you see an exaggerated interpretation of reality and types of youth whereas here, it’s all very real.
The film is led by a strong cast with the three main characters being portrayed excellently, all with a wonderful authenticity. Greg feels like a very real character, someone you can empathise with and understand completely; he’s written, as like the other two, extremely well. Earl isn’t in the picture for the majority, but when he crops up, he’s hilarious with his punchy one-liners. Rachel, the titular ‘dying girl’, is a great character; she isn’t present to beg for sympathy or be moody, but instead she’s written well which is complimented by Cooke’s portrayal.
Me and Earl stands out from the already existing teen tragedy movies because it’s partly a love letter to cinema, conducted through Greg and Earl’s hobby of spoofing classic movies. Sometimes you see clips from these spoofs, and other times you just their covers. As a somewhat pretentious cinephile, these scenes had me laughing out loud but left me disappointed when nobody else understood the puns. Great examples here include My Dinner with Andre the Giant, Don’t Look Now Because A Creepy Ass Dwarf Is About To Kill You!!! Damn, The 400 Bros and 2:48pm Cowboy.
As previously mentioned, although the film isn’t necessarily your average teen movie, it does share some typical conventions of recent examples. The main character provides a voice-over to give an insight into their mind and tell you what’s happening, much like The Spectacular Now and The Fault in Our Stars. This method can be found in multiple teen movies, from The Spectacular Now (2013) to The Fault in Our Stars (2014). The voice-over works well here because the script has Greg as a very solemn and changed person from what we see at the beginning; it’s a clear arc for a character that some had deemed as unlikeable and shallow.
Overall, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a film that you should definitely watch. It’s one of the best films of 2015 with hilarious moments, great characters and a unique style. If you’re anything like me, you’ll cry twice and be seduced by its undeniable charm.
What did you think of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl?
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– Luke Compton