"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" is a film based on a book of the same name. It stars Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, and Olivia Cooke in the three main roles and follows these three friends as one of them is dying of cancer.
The performances in this film are great. Both Mann and Cooke played their roles phenomenally well and expressed an impressive amount of emotion when necessary. Cooke, as the dying girl, really brought a realistic interpretation of someone who is going through cancer, while Mann and Cyler played equally realistic versions of people reacting to that cancer. Too often we have films which deal with cancer but spin it so that it strays from how people would actually behave. While I don't personally have this kind of experience, this film was the most accurate interpretation I've seen of what people in these situations would act like.
The music of this film is easily one of its best features. Emotional scenes just seem to get an extra layer of depth from this fantastic score, elevating the film as a whole and allowing its message to resonate with more of the audience.
This is ultimately a film about cancer and how people deal with it. You have the perspective of the person with cancer, the friends of the person with cancer, the mother of the person with cancer. It seemed to take what last year's "The Fault in Our Stars" did and pushed it even further into a more realistic light. Rachel's reactions to getting cancer seemed adequate for how a young woman who knows she might die but hasn't felt the full effect of her illness yet as she has a very relaxed and laid back attitude about the whole thing initially. We really get to see the evolution of this as the movie progresses and Rachel becomes worse.
The same effect is seen in the two male leads. Greg and Earl begin the film very unmoved by her condition and treat her like a normal teenager. As their friendship grows and her condition worsens, we can see the mask hiding their individual fears about her death cracking, ultimately revealing what we all really feel about those close to us who are dying and our desire for them not to give up on their life. Both Mann and Cyler show these emotions in different ways, allowing for a good contrast in regards to personal reactions.
The side characters in this film are great. Jon Bernthal is the stand-out as the cool history teacher to Greg and Earl and lets them eat lunch in his office while watching old movies. Nick Offerman as Greg's dad is the biggest oddball in the film as he is constantly cooking up some random dish from a foreign land. Both of these actors gave me a good laugh when they were on-screen.
SPOILER ABOUT THE END OF THE FILM IN THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH!!!!!
Touching on the end of the film briefly, I was surprised at Rachel's death when it finally came. Greg had continually said she would survive so I was hoping for some great recovery from cancer but some other tragic result. Nope. She dies while watching the film he makes for her. The wake at Rachel's house is probably my favorite part of the whole film because it really delivers on the idea that you can continue to learn things about someone even after their death, allowing them to still live through their memories and stories. It's a cool concept which isn't tackled head-on too often and was refreshing to see as a result. The voice over with Rachel at the very end reminded me a ton of "The Fault in Our Stars" since both films end in the same fashion. But the whole last ten minutes or so had me tearing up a ton so I suppose the technique is still effective.
SPOILER IS DONE NOW.
But those are my thoughts on "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl." It's a fantastic film which, while somewhat slow at times, really captures this tragic essence of death in a beautiful way. Definitely worth checking out if you have the chance.
Let me know your thoughts on the film in the comments below!
Watch my video review of the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyj0zsiDOpo