When you think of high school, in most cases you are brought back to that time of awkwardness and anxiety.
A time when you try so hard to fit in and the harder you try, the more left out you feel. Some may view high school as the best years of their lives, but for the many that don’t have this sort of lighthearted view towards it; high school was a time of high stress levels, high social anxiety, and a lot of tears. Most adolescents during this time are on the road to discovering themselves and figuring out what their role is in life and in the movie Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, the main character Greg (Thomas Mann) does just that. Greg is the type of guy who doesn’t like being in the spotlight. Someone who wants to casually be friends with everyone in his school and not make enemies; the only real friend that he has is his friend, or coworker as Greg calls him, Earl (RJ Cyler). But everything changes when Greg’s mother, played by Connie Britton, finds out that one of Greg’s classmates, Rachel (Olivia Cooke), has been diagnosed with leukemia. She then forces Greg to hang out and befriend Rachel in hopes that Greg can comfort her through this difficult time. The only problem with this plan is that Greg doesn’t like to get close with people and barely even knows Rachel as it is. With this coming of age story, Greg faces many obstacles such as discovering who he is and what role he plays in the world as well as being a support system to a dying girl he barely knows.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl can easily be considered one of the best films of this year, possibly even a ‘sleeper’ classic waiting to emerge. There are few times in which a movie can touch the deepest parts of your soul and when that happens, you know that the particular movie is something special. And this movie is something special. Taking a subject matter such as cancer and death and adding elements of humor in it is something extremely risky and very rarely works. However, the pairing of the lighthearted and witty humor with this emotional topic ends up working flawlessly. There are times within this movie where you think you may shed some tears but then comes some sarcastic remark made by Greg and you ended up laughing hard.
What was also an interesting twist to this movie was how strange the characters were. Greg, living his whole life trying to be invisible, comes off as not caring about everything, like he is above everything that other people find enjoyable. Even when he is filming movies with Earl, he doesn’t seem like he cares. Earl is also like this where there doesn’t seem to be a time where he cracks a smile even though most of his comments and lines within the movie are the funniest moments. But the reason that this needs to be talked about is how many of the characters lack emotion while their main role within the story is to be the emotional support that Rachel needs. Even Greg’s father, played by Nick Offerman, is just weird in the way he comes off. And with such a wide range of characters, it would seem to be hard to keep an audience interested in each individual character. However, with each character’s little quirks and nuances, it just makes them all the more likable and memorable.
And lastly, the acting was great. Molly Shannon, for example, who plays Denise, Rachel’s mother, gives one of the best performances of her career. Shannon being from a comedy background, brings such an emotional performance in the way she portrays this drunken mom who is coping with the fact that her only child is dying of cancer. She starts off coming off as their weird, overly friendly, and obviously drunk mom but by the end of the film you understand the pain that she has been feeling this entire time, making her probably the most human and relatable character in the film. Shannon to made this character believable and showed tremendous depth in her limited screen time. Thomas Mann also gives a great performance especially towards the end where you see how he has been affected by Rachel and her sickness. Mann does a stellar job at playing this character, making even the smallest moments something special in the way he controls his character’s emotions and plays off of his character’s quirks.
Overall, this movie is something special. It is a must see movie. There are very few movies that can make someone laugh, cry, and touch someone to their core, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl hits all those marks.
The film comes out on June 12, 2015.