Me, Earl, & The Dying Girl Thoughts
Independent cinema has always been a favorite of mine and it was at its height from 2000-2010. Since then the genre has kind of dwelled down, the film industry has gone into a different direction as expected every decade. A lot of recent indies have turned out to be sappy & boring, but that’s not to say every indie film since then has been terrible. It’s just very rare to find a good one. Me, Earl & The Dying Girl was a pleasant surprise because I didn’t expect it to be at the quality of 2000-2010 indie decade. 2015 has been a remarkable year for cinema with stand outs in every genre coming out and there’s still more great films yet to come. But you can consider Me, Earl & The Dying Girl to one of this year’s best even if it may not make my top 10 list.
Me, Earl & The Dying Girl could have easily gone the cheesy, over sentimental route many coming of age & indie films have been doing as of late but ME&TDG know what it wants to be and tries nothing more or nothing less. Surprisingly the film is hilarious for something that’s dealing with a dark topic. It's bolstered by a terrific soundtrack by the great Brian Eno. It’s humor is its strongest asset but there is a very odd shift in tone of in the second half where it gets depressingly dark but it makes sense in the context of the film’s events. I have to say there’s a lot of effort put into this movie. Even though the adults in the films are the big names, they’re hardly in it. Doesn’t stop them from giving great performances though. Jon Bernthal (when is Hollywood going to give this guy a leading role?) & Molly Shannon were superb. Nick Offerman as much as I love him, I felt his character was the most useless in the story and added nothing. There was a lot of opportunity to make a memorable character out of him especially with someone of Offerman’s talent. Thankfully the young main cast is stellar. Thomas Mann seems to be making the right career choices early post Project X and he was great as a lead. Olivia Cooke also was terrific if not my favorite performance in the movie. She has the ability to make you fall in love with her character and crushes your heart at the same time with her battle with cancer. I also loved the chemistry between the 3 leads, no stupid romantic subplots, just a genuine friendship.
The biggest stand out has to be director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. ME&TDG is so creative, well edited and captivating. It takes a lot of a talent to do that. I still can’t get over the creativity of the film and its homages to great directors. The movie parodies, the alternate realities, the stop motion, it all works so well. Gomez-Rejon has worked with some great talent in the past as a second unit director and has also worked on some crappy television (Ryan Murphy produced) but he really manages to have his own voice. Some would call the quirky creativeness of ME&TDG pretentious & for hipsters but I think they’d be mistaken to think that. There are creative individuals who let things flow naturally and there is a hipster culture which is pretty much a culture. Sadly the two get intertwined by society but ME&TDG is a movie that comes straight from the heart. Everything feels natural. I can't tell you how beautiful that climax with Brian Eno's "Big Ship" being played in the background is. What a powerful scene.
ME&TDG is what Mad Max: Fury Road is to action movies. It’s just really well directed but benefits from a strong script & strong characters. It’s funny, thought provoking & honest. Even though it has similarities to a lot of other movies out there, it tries to do its best to stand alone & succeeds. Most movies dealing with cancer tend to be preachy or try to force the tragedy of it down your throats but ME&TDG is not about that at all. Yes cancer is sad & hurts, and watching this movie can be a pain to watch because of that but ME&TDG is about the relationships we build with people, and how they influence us. To value the human connection we make with another because we don’t have much time on this world. You could know someone and they could be gone the next day but its best to value your moments with them and help yourself grow. Me, Earl & The Dying Girl is a beautiful heartwrenching touching story about friendships & growing up and that’s why I would consider it to be one of the strongest coming of age films and one of 2015’s standouts.