Urban Cinefile
"For me, comedy is about honesty. People laugh the hardest when you're being most honest"  -Cameron Diaz
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday, October 18, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL

SYNOPSIS: High school student Greg (Thomas Mann), who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl (RJ Cyler), finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's the skewed perspective and quirky attitude that makes this coming of age story so unexpectedly entertaining. Like The Fault in our Stars, there's a cancer theme, but there's no syrup or undue sentiment in Jesse Andrew's screenplay (adapted from his novel); the film relies on its humour and offbeat characters to drive the narrative. The tone of the self-hating protagonist who thrives on being invisible is beautifully set up by narration, where personal angst reveals his mindset and relationships. It's a stunning central performance by Thomas Mann (Project X) as Greg, who ably portrays the awkward student who struggles to communicate with his best friend and girl with leukemia: the catalyst for change. It's a delightful film: funny, heartfelt and left of centre.

From the extreme camera angles in the opening scenes, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon makes clear that this is a story about perspectives. We see life from above; below; left and right. The occasional inclusion of bizarre imagery (by animation) adds an additional element to Greg's view of his life. The chapter headings, like Day 1 of doomed friendship, bring a particular outlook that allows us to see life through Greg's eyes. These are the tools for the telling of the story. It begins with a firm establishment of the characters and the relationships.

The scene in which Greg admits to Rachel (Olivia Cooke) that his mother has forced him to come and hang out with her, now that she has ben diagnosed with cancer zings with honesty. Cooke has a soft prettiness about her (reminiscent of Rose Byrne) and Rachel is the girl with the pretty bedroom filled with pillows and who has a few surprises of her own. It's a great scene: they reach an awkward agreement to spend the day together - so Greg's mother will get off his back. The development of their relationship is nicely realized - just by being himself, Greg makes Rachel laugh.

But before Greg and Rachel's friendship begins, we have already learned about Greg's best friend Earl (R.J. Cyler), a no-nonsense black American boy whose background is totally different from Greg's. The scenes between them feel so natural: it's as though we are flies on the wall. Their hobby is making short films - they have made 42 parodies on classics, with titles like A Sockwork Orange, Brew Vervet and Death in Tennis. Then, Rachel's friend suggests they make a film for Rachel...

I like the offbeat nature of the characters - Greg's sociologist father (Nick Offerman), the boys' tattooed history teacher (Jon Bernthal) and Molly Shannon as Rachel's wine-loving mother, who hugs Greg just a little bit too often and too tight (a la Mrs Robinson). And there is the lovely quirkiness of the exposition: the regretful polar bear noises, the Medieval prom and the quarrel with Earl.

Above all, the film's success rests squarely on Mann's shoulders, who makes Greg an endearing character, whose foibles are all too real and whose emotional journey we warmly embrace.


Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL (M)
(US, 2015

CAST: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon

PRODUCER: Jeremy Dawson, Dan Fogelman, Stve M. Rales

DIRECTOR: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

SCRIPT: Jesse Andrews (novel by Jesse Andrews)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Chung-hoon Chung

EDITOR: David Trachtenberg

MUSIC: Brian Eno, Nico Muhly

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gerald Sullivan

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 3, 2015







Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017