Sunday, September 20

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Young adult movies are becoming more fluent lately; they don’t only adapt franchise starting ones, but also those that tell a story that most of us could relate with. Sadly, some of those stories always involve losing a loved one over cancer – cancer movies. Unfortunately this is one of them; but a well made, coming of age film that doesn’t have us bawling like hell, but touches on the human experience of it.

My interest in the film piqued when this won at Sundance. I didn’t dislike the book this was based on, but it felt like I was reading a 12-year old masquerading as a 17-year old person’s story. Thankfully the author smoothly translated his novel onscreen, and the actors who portrayed the characters really brought life to those pages. Backtracking a bit, this is about Greg and his penchant for distancing himself from others, trying to cruise by high school unnoticed. This is also about Greg’s relationship with Earl, who he refers to as his co-worker, and his relationship with Rachel, a girl his mother forced him to hang out with because she has cancer. The movie mostly revolved around Greg’s progression and growth as he spent more time with Rachel. This mostly includes showing Rachel films he and Earl makes, hanging out with her and eventually becoming a friend. 

I like the way this was written. The constant narration of the character allows progression of the story without missing a beat, and a look into Greg’s thoughts in order to understand and sympathize with his character. The story is told like it is – it’s very straightforward. It could have been more emotional, as there were scenes where it’s trying to reach peak emotions and it just kind of misses, but still hits the kind of atmosphere it was going for. Some scenes (with the way it was shot and how the conversation is going) become pivotal to their friendship even without trying. There were no life-changing lines, but there really are moments where Greg and Rachel’s friendship have gone deeper. 

The film also mostly works because of the cast. Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke and RJ Cyler were fantastic in their roles, although Cyler could have used more screen time. His character was the one who really understood Greg, so more of their scenes at the latter half could have had more impact. Mann fit the role like a glove, making the character more likeable than he actually is. Olivia Cooke was also great as Rachel – she really doesn’t talk much and just stays quiet most of the time, but I liked her rapport with Mann. I also wished she had more scenes with Cyler; their characters were comfortable around each other, and it would have been more believable that they became good friends. 

Let’s not forget the adults – Nick Offerman was predominantly present as a kooky father and was a great center for comic relief. Connie Britton and Molly Shannon also hammed their roles as quirky mothers. Then there’s the slightly profound teacher, played by Jon Bernthal, who was also good in the role. 

The way the film was shot added to the charm of the whole production. The chapter titles worked to the film’s advantage. It kind of reminded me of Wes Anderson’s usage of a similar technique. Most coming-of-age films don’t really used movies as a medium, but this one stood out because of it. It played a big part on Greg, Earl, and Rachel’s friendship. 

This was a pretty great film. It didn’t sugar coat things, and it focused on the friendship budding between the two main characters instead of making the audience to pine for them to be together that way.

Final Word: Great adaptation of a novel. The cast really helped spruced the novel up.

Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Year: 2015

8 comments:

  1. Should I read the novel first? I have a feeling I won't turn to the novel after I watch this but I feel like I should have the boo-experience before the movie-experience.

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    1. I preferred the movie over the book. I had a hard time grasping book-Greg's personality - I kept on thinking he was a twelve year old. You can opt to read the book, but the author translates his work well onscreen that the movie is sufficient on its own.

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  2. This was such a great film, touched me on so many levels. I would probably rate it even higher, like 9/10

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    1. It was great. I didn't rate it much higher because while it was connecting with me on an emotional level, I felt like it was just grazing through the surface and not in depth like what the movie was supposed to deliver.

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  3. Lovely review! I never read the book, but I really enjoyed this film. It felt different from all the other cancer movies I've seen like The Fault in our Stars and My Sister's Keeper. Plus, that scene where Rachel watches the movie was stunning.

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    1. It really was different from those movies! I really liked how this was filmed - some shots were amazing to look at.

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  4. Great review; I really liked this film a lot. I agree with you though that Cyler could have used a little more screen time...he was certainly one of the movie's MVP's for me :)

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    1. Cyler having more scenes would have made a bigger impact; he was supposedly a prominent character but got kind of sidetracked.

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