Before you read this review, I think it is important that you remember that I am not a professional reviewer (you could probably guess that by the quality of my other posts!) so don’t expect a full, in-depth review. I always feel like most movie reviews I read are always too complicated for the standard moviegoer to understand, when in reality all the majority of people reading just want to know whether or not they should go and see the movie; so I aim to write a review that is simple and direct enough for everyone to get the answers they want. I think it is also important to note that everything that I will mention in the review below is purely my opinion. If you disagree, please feel free to write in the comments; I would love to get someone else’s views on the movie.
Oh, and finally, there will be spoilers ahead, so if you don’t want anything spoiled then don’t bother reading!
Okay, all in all, I really enjoyed Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, yet I find it frustrating because I feel like the movie had so much potential to be a true classic, but just missed the mark a few times for me.
Let’s talk about the actors first. Thomas Mann stars as Greg, the ‘Me’ from the title, RJ Cyler as Earl, and Olivia Cooke as Rachel (otherwise known as ‘The Dying Girl’). Mann played the confused, lost, but too-afraid-to-show-it Greg absolutely perfectly; he made the character indefinitely relatable. Yet, I would consider the true star of this movie to be Olivia Cooke. Her portrayal of quite simply a ‘normal’ teenage girl is completely engulfing. Cooke makes Rachel seem like someone you would only notice was at your school if you saw her, but that’s it, she’s nobody you’d remember. Rachel isn’t a cheerleader, isn’t a hipster, isn’t incredibly smart, she is just an average teenager, looking forward to the future; heck, Greg even says that he just categorises Rachel as part of “Boring Jewish Senior Girls Subgroup 2-A”, showing just how unnoticeable Rachel was. The best part of that however, is that Rachel likes that, she’s so comfortable with who she is. That was until she got leukaemia. Cooke makes Rachel the most tragic character by beautifully portraying how cancer doesn’t only destroy your body, it destroys every part of your being. However, Cooke expertly exhibits how Rachel is still wonderfully strong even when she has decided to stop getting treatment in a scene that gave me chills.
Whilst talking about the acting, I feel like I would be committing a horrible crime by not mentioning Molly Shannon, who gives an acting masterclass showing a mother coming apart at the seams due to the looming reality of losing her daughter. It is genuinely heart-breaking to watch.
One thing I adore about Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is that this is not a romance movie. The relationship between Greg and Rachel isn’t romantic. They are just unlikely friends; they hang out, watch spoof movies made by Greg and Earl (my personal favourite being Senior Citizen Kane), and get ice-creams. This certainly increases my enjoyment of the movie because it isn’t the clichéd love story of a guy falling madly in love only to have his heart broken by the inevitable death of his love.
My main concern with this movie in fact is that the titular characters don’t seem to actually spend very much screen time together, leaving me feeling a little bit cold when Greg somewhat falls apart after Rachel’s death. At times, I struggle to connect with their relationship because Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, the director, doesn’t show much interaction between the trio, except the situations mentioned in the previous paragraph. I feel like this dampened the emotional impact of Rachel’s death because the characters were well characterised individually, yet as a group they barely interacted. Meaning that I struggled to believe Greg and Earl’s reactions to her death, and therefore couldn’t feel the sadness that I would’ve had a little more time been put into showcasing the trio further.
Even with that I mind I would definitely watch this movie again just for the sheer enjoyment of seeing a good coming-of-age film that is not all about romance. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is a hard-hitting story about friendship, maturity and loss and is without question going to go down as a cult classic.