Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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Theatrical Release Poster

Director: Alfonso Gomez Rejon

Screenplay: Jesse Andrews

Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Jon Bernthal

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 105 minutes

Studio: FOX Searchlight

Release Date: January 25, 2015 (Sundance)
June 12, 2015  (United States)

Based on: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Novel) by Jesse Andrews

Synopsis: High Schooler Greg Gaines, an awkward high school senior who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after his mom forces him to spend time with Rachel – a girl in his class with whom he hasn’t spoken to since kindergarten who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

My Review

This is the movie that didn’t glamorize cancer. It’s beautiful.

This is the movie that tells us life is full of unexpected turn of events and it is short

This is  the movie that left me in awe. It’s beautiful.

I know a lot of you would disagree with me but I prefer this movie over ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. The two movies seemed to be related and attached that whenever you hit the search button for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Fault in Our Stars is always at the suggestion page for ‘Related Movies’ or ‘People also search for’.

Don’t get me wrong, The Fault in our Stars is a great novel and movie but there’s something about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl that caught my attention (and admittedly my heart and soul). Maybe because it isn’t based on a love story but about a mismatched friendship.

Greg Gaines is a genius for getting a citizenship in every nation of high school cliques and breaking the typical high school life of belonging into only one nation. He is the epitome of a teenager who just wants to survive high school without all those high school drama bullcrap by befriending everyone (without really befriending them) and staying low-key, being in good terms and casually interact with each nation once in a while in a way that he is invisible to everyone.

It’s nice to see an add-on to a classic twist of a high schooler not having any place to sit at on the cafeteria. As Greg said, it is one of the places he couldn’t go because every last square inch of it is disputed territory.  At first, I honestly think, ‘Oh no, bathroom it is just like in the Mean Girls’, but I was taken aback to see that Greg spends his lunch time together with his best friend, Earl, whom he prefers to call ‘co-worker’  in the office of their History teacher, Mr. McCarthy, who Greg addresses as the only reasonable adult in his High School.

I realized that Greg doesn’t like ‘attachments’; he doesn’t want to get in touch with his emotions that’s why he calls Earl ‘co-worker’ and refuses to really become friends with anyone (other than Earl) at school. I think the reason why he doesn’t like calling anyone his friends is because he has issues; trust issues. Greg doesn’t seem to care about anything except for making movies and surviving every single day of high school–but all that changed when he rekindled his friendship with Rachel.

Greg and Rachel’s bond formed when his mother instructed him to spend time with Rachel after finding out she has leukemia, a cancer of the blood. They started off with an awkward meeting considering that they haven’t talk to each other since kindergarten and they weren’t in the same clique in high school. Both of them just thought of each other as an acquaintance or just another face in the hallway. Greg was reluctant to visit Rachel and admitted to her that it was his mother’s idea to hang out with her, but she grew on him and started visiting her every day after classes. What’s so great about this movie is it didn’t turn out like any cliché YA story where they fall for one another after getting to know and spending time with each other. Seeing the relationship between Greg and Rachel deepen into a platonic one is such a great comfort and escape from other YA romances. Come on guys, we need a break from that.

The casting was remarkable, Thomas Mann portrayed the awkward Greg Gaines perfectly. I admire Olivia Cooke for shaving her head for the role of Rachel, it shows her passion and dedication for the film. Jon Bernthal’s character was intriguing, never have I seen a heavily tattooed History teacher and he portrayed one perfectly. New comer RJ Cyler was awesome for his role as Earl.

This movie gave laughs and tears. It is the coming of age experiences of Greg, the witty responses, the awkwardness of our teenage protagonist and the hilarious parody of classic movies that Greg and Earl passionately makes that made the audiences crack up. But, despite the humor the movie brought, there are also tear jerking scenes from the movie that made everyone shed a tear, like the scene where Rachel and Greg are talking about prom but then Rachel blurts out that she’s going to stop treatment soon. Greg was grandly affected in this scene. I can see the disappointment in his eyes realizing that Rachel’s throwing out her plans for college and growing up. Deep down, he’s upset that Rachel is giving up on life. The sadness in both Greg and Rachel’s eyes while she states how unmotivated she is about life-staying in bed all day, waking up weaker and uglier each day was something deep.

One scene that truly strucked me is the scene where Greg visited Rachel at the hospital before going to prom with the girl of his dreams. That scene will always be my favorite. Greg and Rachel laying side by side at her hospital bed while smiling and shedding tears watching the movie Greg and Earl made for her plus the chill binding background music was absolutely perfect. I like how they’re perfectly captured at that moment; the cinematography for that scene was great.

What’s so heartbreaking was that I actually believed Greg. Throughout the chaos happening in that scene, I have a little faith that Rachel was gonna survive somehow. I disregarded the introduction of Greg’s essay where he said he made a movie so bad someone actually died. I thought he was just exaggerating. He repeatedly said that Rachel wasn’t going to die and I actually believed him. He too believed that she was gonna survive…but we both ended up with disappointment and a broken heart.

“I know I told you she doesn’t die, and I’m sorry. Deep down, somehow, I didn’t think she would…but she did”

I’m kinda glad I watched the movie first before reading the book because it saved me from a lot of spoilers. Imagine if I read the book first, then I’d already know what happens; I won’t believe Greg at all.

The story doesn’t end there. The scene where Greg explores Rachel’s room after finding diminutive clues that leads from one unfolded secret to another was sentimental.Though it is sad you never get to see or talk to a person who just took their last breath as Greg said, it’s great to learn something new about a person who just passed away. The letter Rachel wrote for Pittsburgh State was definitely heart warming, I really hoped that Greg got accepted.

This movie is absolutely amazing. It’s perfect. It drives you to do something in your life because as cliché as it might sound, life is short. You never know what might happen and you never know the people who’ll truly stick by your side at your most vulnerable times.

Greg inspired me to continue pursuing my dream in being part of the film industry. I really hope I get to work on such a great film like Me and Earl and The Dying Girl one day.

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A Flatlay picture of my ‘Me and Earl and The Dying Girl’ Journal Spread (IG:@kathslavie)

P.S. Go download ‘The Big Ship’ by  Brian Eno and Me and Earl and The Dying Girl credits song. Those two are my favorite from the movie soundtrack

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