Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Writer: Jesse Andrews
Based on: Jesse Andrews‘ novel
Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, [Spoiler] Hugh Jackman
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2015
[Review by cornholio.]
Greg (Thomas Mann) glides through High School doing everything he can not to be noticed and not to get too close to anyone. Even his best friend Earl (RJ Cyler) is just a co-worker to him. When his mother (Connie Britton) hears that her friend Denise’ (Molly Shannon) daughter Rachel (Olivia Cooke) has cancer, she forces Greg to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel. Both aren’t exactly happy about it, but somehow they manage to get past the initial awkwardness.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a film that manages to make you laugh and cry, touching on important issues in a lighthearted and sweet way that still takes things seriously.
With Me and Earl and the Dying Girl coming out so shortly after The Fault in Our Stars, it’s easy to just wave it away as another take on the “teenager with cancer” story. But whereas TFiOS was obsessed with fighting to get to do as much as you possibly can and living life to the fullest in the short time we have, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl comes from a different angle: it’s a film that is all about how relationships make you vulnerable, but that is an essential, necessary vulnerability – you can’t spend your life at arm’s length from everybody else, even if that sometimes means getting hurt and even if you sometimes have to let go. You can neither prevent hurt by not connecting in the first place, nor by holding on too tightly. Hurting is a part of life, inextricably interwoven with all of the good things.
And in one of the most poignant scenes of the film, Rachel makes it clear that sometimes that hurt becomes too much to bear. And even if there are still good things, it is everybody’s right to stop fighting the pain and to just manage it as best as they can. She doesn’t owe anbody a fight to the last breath. It is her body, her life, it’s her right to say when she’s had enough. It doesn’t matter what Greg or the story demand of her. More often than not the stories about bodily self-determination are about abortion and it was nice to get a different take on the right to choose that is so much in the corner of choice.
All of these big topics are tackled with such a sweet, fresh sense of humor and colorful characters that it was simply joyful to watch even as I was bawling my eyes out. Not only did I very much like Greg, Earl and Rachel, I also loved the various supporting characters/adults around them and the wonderful cast portraying all of them. Connie Britton and Nick Offerman (as a sociology professor! Be still my heart! Although he seemed more of an anthropologist to me) as well as Molly Shannon and Jon Bernthal (who is so damn hot when he’s not playing assholes) were simply wonderful.
What you get is the perfect storm of a movie: lovely characters, big topics, an amazing sense of humor, emotional content, nicely shot and with mixed in movie parodies. I can only recommend it.