Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

Me and Earl and The Dying GirlTearing it up with some spoilers.

Despite my growing love for YA novels, fantasy as well as contemporary, I didn’t even consider picking up Me and Earl and the Dying Girl before watching its screen adaptation. The reason and justification for skipping it is simple, I didn’t really feel like reading a book that referenced to a death in its title because tears. But despite my attempt to avoid waterworks, the movie still hit me where it hurts and there were a few tears here and there.

The premise of the movie is rather simple, Greg (Thomas Mann) is manipulated by his parents to hang out with Rachel (Olivia Cooke) because she has leukemia. Greg, who is socially awkward and prefers to be alone and without a label,  is not very excited about the idea but he still goes through with it. And then there’s Earl (RJ Cyler), Greg’s best friend and two of them make ironic parody films vaguely based on famous movies. That’s how the movie starts off and though there isn’t much to grab onto or adventures to summarize, the movie still goes into the depths of battling cancer and trying to fit in. And most importantly, having the courage to make friends, even if you tell yourself that you are a loner and that one high school student that doesn’t belong to any social groups.

Frankly, though I decided to pen down this review a while ago, I don’t have a hell of a lot to say about the movie. The performances by the young actors were good, not too annoying nor too pretentious. RJ Cyler shined, not just because his character Earl seemed to be grounded way beyond his years, but because even his silent presence was somehow reassuring. Mann and Cooke, who had more screen time, had great chemistry because it was exactly what it was supposed to be – a friendship and to have them portray that seamlessly was nice. The only problem with the movie’s narrative for me was the fact that while it told a story, it didn’t really tell anything before Rachel’s death.

me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl

Let me explain – up until the very end, before Rachel dies during a very tearful moment, the story feels shallow. Not because the actors are bad, or the story is somehow mediocre, no, it just feels like it because the plot was designed to reveal the most important part of the story at the very end. The impact of that is devastating actually, because not only do you realize the characters never had the chance to get to know each other, but that you as a viewer were just like Greg, unable to notice before it was too late. This leaves me between two strong emotions, I’m a little disappointed that only in the end I started to love Rachel’s character to the fullest, and a little happy, because that’s a perfect representation of life – sometimes you miss out on even the important things. Because when Greg enters Olivia’s room after her wake, he sees things for the first time and he, after she has passed, realizes that he never really knew her. All these layers of Rachel start to emerge before him, he notices the tiniest things, because he is finally looking, he finally cares enough to notice. I think that in the end, that’s the message Me and Earl and the Dying Girl wanted to share.

Now, it is given that the ending of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was definitely my favorite part of the movie, because it provoked strong feelings. The movie until then didn’t even really connect with me and that is why the whole experience itself was simply okay. Though, I completely understand the artistic decision to give a movie such progression towards a very important end. What I did not like about the narrator, who was Greg himself, was that he lied about Rachel’s death – “she lives” was stated twice and then, obviously, she did die. This could be again something that would make us think how a person survives as an idea but I just found it to be a cheap trick to provoke more tears in the end. Or maybe I was just a little mad at the plot. Or I’m still sad and wanted to lash out at somebody. Sorry, Greg!

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10 thoughts on “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)”

  1. Read the book first then watched the movie hours later. The story is a bit of an Indie version of Fault in Our Stars but does not focus too much on the cancer aspect of the story. One of the best messages of the film is the boost of moral that movies offer. Greg and Earl giver Rachael there terrible, not terrible but homemade, movies to simply maker her happy. The movies are not the best and lacked a very distinct plot, but they still managed to make Rachael happy. This is reflected in the movie itself. The film was not a tear-jerking drama that would pull your heart strings from start to finish but it left some positive messages, hopefully, about life at the end. It really changed the way I see films

    1. I read TFIOS and I actually didn’t finish watching the movie because I didn’t like it. I think I have never said it out loud but I never got into it…. I probably would have felt the same if I read this book and then watched the movie, though I heard that the main character was a lot more tolerable in the movie adaption than in the book. Who knows, and now I’ll never know. It did have a good message but I think it didn’t manage to bring it out as much as I would have liked.

      Thanks for the comment!!

  2. “All these layers of Rachel start to emerge before him, he notices the tiniest things, because he is finally looking, he finally cares enough to notice.” Love this assessment!

    I actually was underwhelmed by the ending of this one, much like TFIOS. It just didn’t hit hard enough. I read the book first on this one (never read TFIOS) and loved its humor and the countless movie references. The movie actually did a better job with the movie stuff, if you ask me, since, well, it’s a movie and was assuredly directed by a guy in Gomez-Rejon, who straight up nailed the movies within the movie and even shot scenes in different styles to highlight the moods of the Greg character. Not a perfect movie. But a cool take on the YA novel-movie thing that’s happening these days.

    1. I think the ending was so different from where the movie was going in the beginning but I like to hear that the movie parody thing was better in the movie because I really enjoyed that part, which means the movie medium was able to elevate something from the books. And I agree, not a perfect movie, but it had its moments.

    1. That’s one way of looking at it.. a tad bit too pleased with itself.. I like that, I’m gonna add that to my everyday vocabulary. And thanks for dropping by!

  3. Lovely review! I liked this a bit more than you did. I just felt like these characters were so different from other teens in cancer movies. I just wish there had been a bit more of Earl.

    I cried too. Twice. lol

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