Dealing with death is something adults do fairly poorly as a rule. Humanity is not ready to genuinely deal with the end, it seems, and on the hole contemplating a world without our presence is a very difficult one. We don’t know what happens after this life ends, if there’s something on the other side even, and asking teenagers to do so is something perhaps outside of their capacity. In cinema most times teenagers dealing with death winds up being melodramatic drivel like The Fault in Our Stars.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl eschews the melodrama in handling teen death and we’re much better for it.
Simple premise. Greg (Thomas Mann) is the sort of guy who’s friendly with everyone in high school without belonging to any particular clique. Rachel Kushner (Olivia Cooke) is a childhood friend whom his parents (Nick Offerman and Connie Britton) force to hang out with. Why? Because she’s dying. Along with his best friend Earl (Ronald Cyler II) he becomes friends with Rachel as she battles the illness. Along the way they have shenanigans, et al, as all three explore the ramifications or her pending death.
What the film does so well is that it stays away from being an overly melodramatic teen film and goes towards more of a Wes Anderson film.
It’s a quirky film about coping with death as Greg and Rachel develop a unique friendship over the months as she battles her illness. What sets it apart is that this is much more realistic in terms of how it handles the end of life. Nothing we do really prepares us for handling death among those we’re close to, especially in our younger years, and Greg’s coping with it is interesting and unique in cinema. He doesn’t know how to handle it … and there’s no easy way at the end, either. There’s a genuineness to the ending that leaves this film in much better ground than something like The Fault in our Stars because there is no happy ending.
I think that’s why the film is so affecting. We get handling the end of life like this because it’s closer to reality as opposed to the maudlin type we normally see.
A handful of extras are included, including the final film Greg and Earl made in its entirety, are included.
20th Century Fox presents Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Directed by Alfonso Romez-Rejon. Written by Jesse Andrews, based on his novel of the same name. Starring Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Molly Shannon, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton. Run Time: Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: 10.6.2015