Film Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
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★★★★☆ Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Grand Jury prize winning Sundance hit isn’t quite the same defining quality as the festival’s other alumni, but it certainly still makes its mark. After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival back in January of this year - a platform that has played host to some of the best and brightest independent films since the 1980s (including the likes of Reservoir Dogs and Whiplash) – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was hailed as something of a contemporary teen classic. Walking away with both the Grand Jury and Audience awards, the film’s future seemed set; it was destined to be remembered for years to come. Sadly, it seems that audiences and critics alike may well have been somewhat jumping the gun because, as much as it is a fun and emotional little journey through the teenage conscious, Earl is far from the realms of genre-defining. Focussing solely on the exploits of socially-troubled young filmmaker Greg (Thomas Mann), Me and Earl and the Dying Girl tells the very story of its title, chronicling the year he spends befriending former childhood acquaintance Rachel who has since been diagnosed with Leukaemia. Alongside Greg’s “co-worker”, best-friend and general partner in crime Earl, the pair set about breaking down their deepest fears and regrets as Rachel’s illness advances, uncovering the very essence of teenage life just as it appears to be about to slip out from underneath both of them. As such a plot synopsis no doubt indicates, this is a decidedly thoughtful effort, more so that is than what is usually expected of those daring to follow the classic coming-of-age formula. Jesse Andrews’ script – adapted from his own novel of the same name – is the real crowning glory here, a witty, insightful and seriously intelligent mishmash of goofy comedy and serious, grounded life drama. Its characters feel both rich and textured by the romanticised existence they live within whilst still seeming relatable enough to really get behind, helping to power a narrative that, although frequently finding itself wandering aimlessly through nowhere in particular, is consistently entertaining.
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