Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Me, Earl, and The Dying Girl is at once a cinematic beauty and frustrating coming-of-age tripe.
Review by Matt CummingsIn Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's Me, Earl, and The Dying Girl, the high school senior Greg (Thomas Mann) enjoys a neutered relationship with every clique: cool from a distance, but none enjoying a true friendship with the other. That's ok with the rejection-phobic Greg, even though his wacky father (Nick Offerman) and best friend Earl (RJ Cyler) know better. To pass the time, Greg and Earl shoot parodies of classic cinema, but even then Greg comnsiders Earl a "business partner." But all that changes when Greg's overly-serious mother (Connie Britton) sends him to comfort the leukemia-stricken high schooler Rachel (Olivia Cooke), who's not exactly happy that Greg is violating her personal space. As the two cement a close friendship, with Greg showing off his arthouse-style movies, both must decide whether they can keep their feelings for each other at bay, even as Rachel fights a losing battle with her illness. What begins as an excessively smart and beautifully shot teenage dramedy descends into YA emotionalism without the heft or follow-through. Our leads are poorly developed, heaving surprises in at film's end that feel shoehorned because the director is obsessed with the theme of mourners learning about someone after they have passed. When that happens in Rachel's bedroom - care of a series of hand-drawn birds that move across wallpapered trees, leading to a bookshelf filled with intricate cut-outs in her books - I suddenly realized that our creative team hadn't imbued her with any prior hobbies or interests until that moment. Rachel is just a girl who's doomed not to make it, her quirky fashion style and intelligence serving as her only gifts until Rejon decides otherwise. Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.