Friday, June 12, 2015
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
That "me" in the title is a sleek and artistic high school senior Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann). To deal with typical high school torments when it comes to social interactions, Greg develops a successful strategy to be invisible and is able to blend in with just about any student group at school. When he comes home, he hangs out with his childhood best friend Earl (RJ Cyler) and makes mockeries of classic films. Their comical home movies are adored by Greg's mellow and supportive father (Nick Offerman) without any reservation.
That routine is interrupted when Greg's mom (Connie Britton) informs Greg that his classmate Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is diagnosed with leukemia, hence the "dying girl" in the title. Greg is forced to hang out with Rachel in order to offer some comfort and support. While Rachel's mom (Molly Shannon) is over friendly to Greg, Rachel is less so. However, Greg's quirky, intelligent, and kind nature wins over Rachel's heart and they become close friends when Rachel battles with cancer.
By any measure, this is a remarkable film with many eccentric characters that constantly amuse, inspire, and entertain. The director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon skillfully breaks away from clichés revolving sentiment about a dying teenager. He never goes down the slippery slope of making this film a tearjerker. But that doesn't mean the film is not moving. In fact, the film's humorous tone makes its climax even more powerful and dramatic. The film may just bring out your tears after all.
The stylish visual, by renowned Korean cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon ("Oldboy," "Stoker"), often makes you feel like you are an eagle gliding in the sky overlooking the characters, or like a curious onlooker checking through a peephole on the door into their rooms and into their lives. It's flashy, energetic, and never boring. The impeccably arranged details, such as words on a brown lunch bag, notes on a VHS tape, and even drawings on the wallpaper make you appreciate filmmakers' elegant effort in making this delightful movie.
Besides all the lovely bells and whistles, what resonates with the audience the most would be the film's arresting characters. They are goofy, witty, real, and as familiar as people around us. Yet, they are creative, talented, romantic, and genuinely good-natured at heart. It's no surprise that their story becomes deeply moving and makes you laugh and cry at the same time.