Give the director of a bunch of episodes of Glee and American Horror Story a screenplay by a new writer, a cast of unfamiliar faces, and a $7 budget and you get Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, one of the best movies you will see all year.
When self-hating but good-hearted high school senior Greg is forced by his mother to reconnect with his childhood friend Rachel after she gets diagnosed with leukemia, the two reconnect and have lots of fun along the way.
Wait, scratch the “fun” part. Are there laughs? Oh, plenty. But this is a drama more than anything. None of that Fault in our Stars adorable romance crap here, this movie doesn’t hold back a single punch.
Jesse Andrews adapts his own novel and aces it. The dialogue is witty, the story is unpredictable, and the characters are well-realized. Pacing is also spectacular, without a dull moment to be found. Things can get a little cliché here and there, but the movie’s charm easily makes up for it. Overall, this is an Oscar worthy screenplay. Here’s hoping it makes it till voting time.
Despite names like Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, and Jon Bernthal, this is a pretty fresh cast here. Thomas Mann as Greg, Olivia Cooke as Rachel, and RJ Cyler as Earl knock it out of the park. Each actor so perfectly embraces their character and naturally executes each line of dialogue and movement with grace. Each actor was given a juicy role and they did not disappoint.
The real star of the show here is director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. He took that screenplay and those actors and really created something special. This is a movie with a personality. It’s indie as hell so the common audience might be a little turned off, but those people probably aren’t reading a movie review.
Cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung, best known for shooting 2003’s Oldboy, worked perfectly with Gomez-Rejon to flawlessly frame each and every scene. Long and exuberant shots, which also makes the performances all the more impressive, make for one of the most impressively made films of 2015.
The tagline “A little friendship never killed anyone” should let you know that you’re getting into something great. Aside from some cliché moments, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is pretty exemplary. Great performances, beautiful cinematography, a delightfully depressing screenplay, and amazing direction from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon should push you out the door.