‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ is Honest and Enriching
“Me and Earl and the Dying” girl will tug at your heart strings.
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” tells the story of Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann), a teenager trying to coast through high school without making any lasting connections. He spends most of his time making short parody films with his friend Earl (RJ Cyler) but his rhythm is changed once he is forced to spend time with a girl named Rachel (Olivia Cooke) who has cancer.
Along the way Greg, Earl, and Rachel (the dying girl) discover quite a bit about themselves and each other as they venture forth on an emotional journey of friendship and enlightenment.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 4.5
The foundation of “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is character development. Each of the characters have a unique aspect that enriches the plot, theme, and even cinematography as the film progresses. The film’s main protagonist Greg is one of the more unique characters that I’ve seen in a high school coming of age story. Being an intentional social outcast gives us a shell of a character that most any of us can fit into. His social status is a bit more vague given that he is well received by everyone at his school but chooses to disassociate to avoid any emotional connection. Both social outcasts and social butterflies will find an element of Greg that relates to their own personality.
The supporting roles of Earl and Rachel seemed to be metaphorical representations of Greg’s transformation throughout. Earl represents the functionally impassive side of Greg being referred to as a “long-time associate” rather than friend. There is a familiarity between the two but Earl is not an emotionally engaging individual much like Greg at his school. Rachel on the other hand is the glue attempting to repair Greg’s emotional detachment from the world. There is a social resistance coming from both Rachel and Greg but she is definitely the catalyst towards repairing Greg’s apathetic attitude.
The journey of these characters is definitely the enriching part of the story but the subplots and precarious visuals show a more advantageous side of this film. The films that Greg and Earl make are a supplemental treat that invoke laughter in a quirky Wes Anderson style of humor. They are intentionally low budget but creative which gives them a rustic feel that keeps you visually engaged in between the moments of dialogue. Their short films also establish a justification to see Greg’s creative view of the world. At one point you may see a scene highlighting the angular depth of two converging hallways to represent Greg’s metaphorical chosen path. Another scene may have the camera completely inverted to represent his world being “turned upside down.”
Overall “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a stroke of cinematic brilliance. The film takes a lot of risks that pay off in the end and the performances from the three main characters are more than adequate, especially Thomas Mann.
Entertainment Value – 4
There are a lot of creative elements within this film that cater to a wide variety of audiences. The abstract filming methods will appeal to a more indie crowd while all audiences will find an emotional connection to these characters. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is an enriching journey that will invoke both laughter and tears. And for those that may be emotionally disconnected, there are many moments of creativity that should entertain you throughout the film.
There are a few aspects to this film that would make you want to watch through again but unfortunately the emotional turning point will be diluted after multiple viewings. That’s not to say that the emotional connection won’t be present for your second viewing but that lack of the element of surprise certainly will have you less engaged.
As previously stated, this film is more than just the emotional connection and if you appreciate the creativity of this film the first time around, you will most likely be having multiple viewing sessions in the future.
Surprisingly “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” had some digital extras worth watching. If you pick up the DVD or Blu-ray, you get a more in depth look at the mini films that Greg and Earl made which is quite intriguing. The making of their shorts is in addition to the making of the film itself. Commentary from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and even a conversation with Martin Scorsese makes this film worthy of an in-home purchase.
"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" is more of an abstract coming of age film that utilizes many elements of creative filmmaking. The characters are relatable, the performances are more than adequate, and the story is purely enriching.