Where do I start with this? Well it all started months ago when I was doing my movie checking assignments. As I listed the trailers for the one of the film I was assigned to, I stumbled across a preview for a new independent film called Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Based on the novel by Jesse Andrews, this interpretation is directed by Alfonso Gomez Rejon. The movie has certainly garnered some success as it was one various awards and even received a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival. Naturally this made me curious to check out this new dramedy; and thankfully before doing my assignments this past weekend, I was able to check out the new independent film. Yet could this indie film sway the thoughts of this Film Adventurer?
The plot of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl centers on a high schooler named Greg Gaines(Thomas Mann). One day, Greg's mother (Connie Britton) tells Greg to spend some time with Rachel Kushner (Olivia Cooke): a high school girl who had just been diagnosed with leukemia. After getting acquainted. Greg and Rachel become close friends. As the two explore their "doomed" friendship, Greg and his best friend Earl (Ronald Cyler II) find themselves making a video for Rachel. Unfortunately for the two, the video does not seem to be working; and to make matter worse for: things are not going to well for Rachel.
A plot like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has been done numerous times; but that did not stop this film's story from being effective. The friendship theme to the film had a subtle approach to it,and that is what the made the story of Greg, Rachel and Earl so effective. This approach made the plot relatable and it allowed the morals behind the story to be that much easier to comprehend; especially when it came to the plot's outcome. However what made the film's story really stick out was its execution. Throughout the movie, the story was told in sections. Breaking down a plot into chapters is nothing new, but how Me and Earl and the Dying Girl handled it was done in a way that made this type of narrative refreshing to see.
With the film being narrated by Greg, it made sense for the high school senior to have the most development. Though Greg is suppose to be an awkward teenager, he certainly was not perceived in a cliched fashion. In fact Greg's mentality was understandable as it gave the character both direction as well as a personality. Cementing Greg as a likable protagonist was Thomas Mann's performance. Mann put enough energy into his role that, when he had to be serious, I could believe him. Olivia Cooke as Rachel was an interesting type of character. Though the movie was centered on her, there many times where you do not see the progression of Rachel. However that did not mean that her character was ineffective. Rachel's development was handled quite well and Olivia's performance allowed us to feel exactly what this character was going through. Earl, on the other hand, probably had the least development of the three. Yet his character was still effective as Ronald Cyler played a sidekick (for the lack of better words) that you could easily side with. The movie also had a strong supporting casting featuring the likes of Connie Britton, Molly Shannon and Jon Bernthal. While the supporting cast did not have loads of screen time, they managed to do their job flawlessly; and even the most minor of parts felt like a character you could not help but enjoy.
If the story and characters were not enough then what really grasped my attention was the film's technical elements. The cinematography was a thing of beauty. The movie used an array of different styles; from stop motion animation to different camera angles. Under normal circumstances these moments would feel obtuse to the point where they could have been a massive distraction. However, all of these directions fitted perfectly with the movie's overall concept. The film score was also something to behold. The music definitely expressed the movie's creative nature, and the score fit very nicely with the film's variety of pop songs. Last and certainly not least was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl's tone. When watching a dramedy, one should expect both humor and drama. However I found that this film not only met these qualifications, but it managed to exceed the entire genre. While the majority of the film was humorous, the movie knew when to be serious, and when things got dramatic I could believe it. This was thanks to the Alonso Gomez-Rejon's direction in both story and characters. Both of these elements were easy to like which made the drama both investing and believable. This is how a dramedy should be done as this particular film was able to express both the humor and drama of life.
To say I was blown away by Me and Earl and the Dying Girl may be an understatement. The movie had its share of familiar elements, but it was how the films handled these traits that made all the difference. With its sense of creativity, this dramedy stood out from the rest in its genre. This film had moments that made me laugh, made me cry and made me think. To put it simply: this film had everything that I love about going to the movies; and for that I take my hat off to Me and Earl and The Dying Girl.