This week’s cheap movie Tuesday pick was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I went to see it for two reasons: the first was for Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, one of four Mexican directors whose work I really enjoy, and the second to see Connie Britton (Greg’s Mom) because I’m a Nashville (TV show) junkie.
It is the story of Greg (Thomas Mann) and his co-worker (a.k.a. friend) Earl (RJ Cyler) trying to navigate the rocky waters of high school. Greg thinks he has it all worked out – he’s concocted a foolproof invisible existence designed to fly beneath everyone’s radar, while offending absolutely no one. It works pretty well until his mother (Britton) insists that he visits a school mate who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Greg doesn’t know Rachel (Olivia Cooke) – she’s not in any of his circles. He has a million excuses for not doing as his mother’s requested. But finally he bites the bullet and visits her. Their first meeting is delightfully awkward and weirdly wonderful. In spite of the fact that they really don’t have anything to say to one another, Greg continues to see Rachel, even after she becomes very ill.
Now no longer invisible, Rachel’s girlfriend (Kaza Marie Ayersman) convinces Greg to put his hobby (making film parodies of classic movies) to good use and create a film just for Rachel. And so Greg’s journey from self-loathing to self-fulfillment begins. Part of this journey included his teacher Mr. McCarthy (Jon Bernthal), and was the one aspect of this movie that I enjoyed the most.
All the reviews of this quirky coming-of-age tale were good. And deservedly so. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is expertly executed, well acted and tightly crafted. I felt I should have liked it better, but I didn’t. Greg’s denial (about being a friend to Earl and Rachel; about wanting to make “real” movies; about how sick Rachel is) permeated the movie in ways that left me annoyed more than charmed. Ultimately, I felt alienated from the protagonist instead of being drawn into his world.