Film Review | Me and Earl and the Dying Girl *****

Thursday, 24 September 2015

This has to be the best film I've seen in some time.
It's poised on the ledge between a comedy and a tragedy and yet, is still amazing. You see this film is not a love story just a life story and that in itself is invigorating. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much at a film about a dying girl - but trust me there's reason to.

Thomas Mann portrays our lanky, self-loathing main character, Greg, who is a high school senior and is forced my his mum to hang out with fellow student and childhood friend, Rachel (Olivia Cooke), when she is diagnosed with leukemia. It's not the cancer that makes him hang out with her, just the overbearing pressure of his parents. In a way their initial friendship is filled with such reluctance that it could be awkward.
But Greg doesn't want to be a martyr or earn 'cool-points', he only wants to make it thorough high school without being noticed. He's quite content making parody films with his only friend (or co-worker) Earl, played by Ronald CyleII.
The performances by the actors in this film were all absolutely outstanding. The sarcasm and the wit and the sheer realism to the whole thing helps you connect to these characters on some level. Because it's not a romantic film, where the situations can be rather far fetched, but something that could happen to anyone.
Olivia Cooke's acting in this was just breath taking. The clear path she laid of her character's emotions towards both Greg and her disease was utter brilliance. She brought to life a vibrant and quirky girl who was cursed with cancer. I'm also impressed when any actress will shave her head for a role, which is exactly what Cooke did.
For any film boffins, like myself, out there the composition of this film is so beautiful. The shots are non conformist to the generic and manage to capture the smallest details in interesting ways. The director, Alfonso Romez-Rejon, makes his debut outside of the horror genre and succeeds in creating a balanced tone - although the film contains a lot of humour the right emotions (i.e. crying) hit me at the most effective moments. Also being daring in his compositions within a frame; Romez-Rejon often places the principles in the edges of a shot, facing opposite directions, instead of using a standard 180, which just adds to the films quirkiness.
The film also boasts an impressive ensemble of recognisable faces including Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, Nashville) as the mum who pushes her son into action and gets our story rolling; Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) as Greg's obscure father, Molly Shannon (SNL) as Rachel's wine-loving mother and Jon Bernthal as a teacher/mentor figure to Greg and Earl.
Ultimately, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is an uplifting film that won't leave you feeling depressed like other cancer stories, it just reminds you how fun life can be. And that you don't have to take yourself too seriously as there'll always be someone else around to spoof it.
I just hope that when awards season rolls around that this film wins everything it deserves.