The Fault in our stars meets The Perks of being a wallflower meets Paper Towns, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has won a number of awards already and based on this buzz I was looking forward to it. Its another indie inflicted tale of adolescent friendships, one that might be compared to TFIOS because of its cancer stricken heroine, but manages to do a fantastic job of being funny and sad, never being depressing, always being charming.
Thomas Mann is Greg, whose mother, Connie Britton, wants him to spend time with Rachel, who has recently been diagnosed with leukaemia. He and his best friend Earl, RJ Cyler, after a childhood of making spoof versions of famous films, take it upon themselves to make Rachel a film of her own. What follows is a film that lacks romance or cynicism and revels in its sensibilities, reminding me of both Paper Towns and strangely enough, the films of Studio Ghibli.
For a film about a titular ‘Dying Girl’, its a surprisingly energetic, funny and warm film, one which was crafted with a fantastic imagination, lovely cinematography, editing and a great selection of music, both from movies and various artists. It does, however, have real sadness and heartache, this is a story about somebody with a horrible life threatening illness, and it doesn’t shy away from it.
Olivia Cooke as Rachel is fantastically real and engaging, being utterly charming in the face of adversity, and when it becomes really sad, she hits it out of the park with a deep and intricate performance. Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler are both hugely funny, Cyler is very dry and Mann plays somebody who, like Nat Wolff from Paper Towns, sees what he wants to see, but is a great central presence.
The supporting cast, the ever brilliant Nick Offerman is the best, whilst Jon Bernthal appears yet again, after appearing in the abysmal We are your friends, just a couple of weeks ago. Yet, it’s the films 3 leads that hold it all together. There are scenes here that know when to hold back, dropping all the film montages, musical references and editing tricks, and keep the camera static when things get serious, cutting to the heart of the drama.
The film has a lot of indie tricks up its sleeve, inventive shots, the love of films, punning film titles, a great selection of film music, I really loved the use of Everybody’s Talkin’ from Midnight Cowboy, sorry, 2:42pm Cowboy in particular. I never found these things annoying because it’s the sort of things I love, which seems fitting because they reflect the slight pretentious attitude of a loner high schooler who watches too many films.
In the end, this is a film that really worked for me, it was really funny, Werner Herzog impression in particular, occasionally tough to watch, but ultimately charming and delightful. It wasn’t any less or more than I was expecting really, it can safely sit next to that certain breed of high schooler indies that I love so much.
Rating: B 7/10