Short reviews for clear and concise verdicts on a broad range of films…
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Dir.Alfonso Gomez-Rejon/2015)
Earning rave reviews at Sundance, this teenage cancer-comedy sets the smug bar high with the bold title, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Part-Be Kind Rewind, part-Fault in our Stars, this take on those awkward younger-years circles around the dark subject matter of Leukaemia. From the eyes of Greg, a cynical chap versed in the films of Werner Herzog, his outlook is difficult to appreciate. His isolation from every social clique in the school, while maintaining fleeting friendships with everyone, seems to be a reverse-approach to a Mean Girls understanding of fitting-in. His loveable parents order him to contact Rachel (a fleeting friend) who has been diagnosed recently. He visits her reluctantly, contending with a flirtatious mother, before meeting this lone girl dealing with this horrendous circumstance on her own. Wisely, we’re not witness to relentless hospital-location check-ups, doctor-patient visits and chemotherapy treatments. Only thoughtful conversations play out instead of a ‘head shaving’ scene (Something dominating the publicity of similarly-themed 50/50). Instead, it is all from the perspective of art-film savvy Greg (The 400 Blows prominently placed on his bedroom wall). Greg and “colleague” Earl also recreate various ‘classic’ films, after punning the title (Apocalypse Now becomes ‘A box of tulips, wow’) leading to the inevitable film for Rachel. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’s focus on Greg is its fatal flaw, as Earl and Rachel are far more interesting (and likeable) characters. It’s snarky and endearing, but its self-assured narration grates against the heart-breaking events that play out.