By Krystal Lau,
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is an ingenious new take on the idea of a classic romantic drama. Featuring new talents such as Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke, veteran director Alfonzo Gomez-Rejon showcases a seemingly traditional story with a different perspective.
The story begins from the viewpoint of main character Greg Gaines, a self-loathing, dorky high school student who shies away from permanent friendships. All his life he has tried to escape expressing any real emotions, and has managed to do this up until senior year, when he befriends a girl with leukemia at the request of his nagging mother, played by Connie Britton. The “dying girl,” named Rachel (Olivia Cooke), is brutally honest and hopeful about life.
Vibrant side characters include the Greg’s friend Earl, played by RJ Cyler, and Greg’s oblivious dad, played by Nick Offerman.
Other stand-out performances, all by relatively new actors, include Katherine Hughes, who plays “the popular girl.” Molly Shannon plays an alcoholic coping with her daughter’s cancer, and Masam Holden plays the weird high school dork. The cast is highly talented and varied, giving a fresh take on a type of story that might appear cliché.
Although many critics were skeptical that this was a film simply copying “The Fault in Our Stars” (a romantic movie also concerning a girl with cancer), the way “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” tackles this subject is new and unique.
The film succeeds in its brutal portrayal of the harsh reality of diseases and death, and many audience members will find “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” a tearjerker. The camera angles are captivating and original, the plot twisting and unexpected and the actors themselves vibrant and realistic.