Based on the book by Jesse Andrews comes Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, a film about the relationship between three teenagers, one of whom is dying.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl follows the story of Greg (Thomas Mann), a high schooler trying to be invisible, who has arranged his life to have no real connection with anybody. His best friend Earl (RJ Cyler), with whom he has made dozens of home video parodies of classic movies, he describes as a “work colleague” in order to keep his distance. When a girl at school, Rachel (Olivia Cook) is diagnosed with Leukaemia, Greg’s mother browbeats him into spending some time with her to be nice and Greg reluctantly finds himself building a second connection in his life.
So far, so Independent film and, I’ll be honest, that was one of the problems I had with The Fault in Our Stars. It felt like it was trying too hard to be different and clever, it felt just a little bit too manipulative. Which seemed to be exactly the road that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was heading down; a film almost designed to be an Indie darling.
Which it is. However…
While Me and Earl and the Dying Girl follows most of the tropes and clichés of your typical Indie, it does so with such a deft and nuanced touch that it feels fresh and realistic. While the film is extremely stylised to begin with, that style works very well within the narrative and it’s wry sense of humour works very quickly to charm you into becoming involved with the characters.
And what characters they are – all three of the central characters are played by relative newcomers and they do a magnificent job of it. As frustrating and misguided Greg is, Mann’s performance leaves you rooting for him throughout. Cyler (Earl) is remarkably laid back and underplayed (in a good way) and Cook (Rachel, the Dying Girl) is simply magnificent, with a performance that will have you checking IMDb to find out what else she’s in.
These top-notch performances are coupled with a solid soundtrack and some really very clever cinematography to create a film that ought to be pretentious and cynical but actually works very, very well. I went into this film with my barriers up, expecting to be manipulated and it did such a masterful job that it powered through my expectations and hit home anyway.
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