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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Photo credit: Diego Voss-Wikipedia

Despite its somewhat superfluous title, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a surprising gem written by Jesse Andrews (based on his novel) and directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who has mainly worked in TV.

The opening scene narrated by high school senior Greg (Thomas Mann) introduces us to his "low-key good terms" with everyone in an attempt to remain invisible without having any real friends. In fact, Earl (RJ Cyler) is Greg's only friend, and together they create movie shorts satirizing classics, including A Sockwork Orange and Senior Citizen Cane.

Greg's self-loathing and Earl's anecdotal witticisms are conveyed in their shorts, as well as Gomez-Rejon and Andrews's obvious love of movies reminiscent of 500 Days Of Summer (2009) with regards to parallel storytelling and cinematic utterance. When Greg's mother forces him to befriend their neighbor's daughter, Rachel (a.k.a. "the dying girl" played by Olivia Cooke), who has been diagnosed with leukemia, he is surprised by her beauty and clever frankness. They begin a sweet friendship but without the usual Hollywood sappiness and cliché dialogue.

All the while, we remain in Greg's psyche as senior year passes by with a slew of stereotypical family members, teenage cliques and subcultures, and teachers. The filmmakers recognize this old formula and add much comic relief and realism to hold our attention well.

When Rachel's illness becomes more serious, the film shifts to a more dramatic tone. Greg learns valuable lessons about apathy and what it means to love someone more than oneself.

This film about cinema, relationships and the reality of living life develops its own relationship to how these elements have been explored in the past. We are left wondering who we are and who we want to be in this endless world of possibility and unpredictability.

Released in 2015, the movie had a limited run in Tel Aviv. It's available on DVD and streaming.

 

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Wednesday, 27 October 2021

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