Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Screen 14 articles

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl


Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Poster
  • While [Greg] assumes the trash-auteur mantle, [Earl] does little besides utter the words “dem titties”—though the film does take just enough time to gawk at Earl’s crumbling residence on the wrong side of the tracks. That Me is otherwise so insistently self-aware—chapter-book title cards like “This is the part where I get into my first fight ever” divide the action—makes its narrow-mindedness all the more noxious.

  • "I have no idea how to tell this story," Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) says, staring at a computer screen, in the opening scene of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's film suffers from a similar indecision. Ungainly and unsightly, Me and Earl unites a mélange of teen-film tropes—the high school comedy, teen-cancer melodrama, and joint coming-of-age friendship and romance—into a narrative overburdened with cultural references and framing devices.

  • The world is little but a mechanism to advance [Greg's] narrative—to make him a better filmmaker, to make him a better friend, and perhaps to get him into the college of his choice. Everyone else in the movie might as well be dead by the end of it, too, for all their individual destinies matter in the grand scheme of things. Gomez-Rejon has erected a gleaming shrine to adolescent narcissism.

  • [The movie] features two teenage characters obsessed with the Great Movies. Other than that acquisitive movie-mad mindset, it is a pandering, self-flattering mess, featuring unearned catharsis, lazy clichés and characters presented in broad, sometimes-offensive stereotypes.

  • Greg's very notion of self is so blank as to empty the film nearly before it starts, yet so cluttered as to stifle the slightest effort to discover him. Greg is a false neutral—a white male of unnamed ethnicity who, unable to negotiate the school's "factions," belongs to none and ingratiates himself, via phony friendliness, to them all. Greg's supposed neutrality, as a member of no faction, as a featureless neutral person, gives him the universal identity of no identity.

  • The Quirk is strong with this one. Figured it was going to improve once it settled down after the opening barrage (claymation, seriously?), but in fact it goes so deeply wrong I can only assume it's bumping up against my own personal biases, and works fine for everybody else.

  • Its values are pure film school: abrupt, artificial camera movements; unbroken takes that draw attention to their length; references that feel less like homage than compulsive listing. The exam-like “this is what I know, this what I can do” mentality produces plenty of zany aesthetic choices, but at the expense of qualities like character; this is one of those cases where the means largely obfuscate the ends, which aren’t that interesting to begin with.

  • Gomez-Rejon is a TV veteran who, it seems, has been itching for opportunity to stretch out. The camera’s busy but never excessively so, and he’s unafraid of long takes and the silences within them. This is a clever movie — its real corollary is the work of Michel Gondry, whom I suspect more directors will turn to for inspiration.

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl may not be the best teen cancer weepie ever made, if there even is a best teen cancer weepie. But it’s surely the most adorable, for better or worse — less like The Fault in Our Stars and more like Diary of a Wimpy Kid reconfigured for a slightly older, hipper audience, and with cancer thrown in.

  • Tempting though it initially is to dismiss this double Sundance-winning coming-of-ager as yet another self-satisfied indie comedy offering only surface charms, the emotional payoff delivered in the tonally uneven third act confirms this as a work of real substance.

  • Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s beautifully hand-crafted first feature doesn’t just pay lip service to its characters’ reckless creative impulses but actively embodies them in every frame, in the cleverness of its verbiage and the intricacy of its visual design. That doesn’t make it any less of a cancer-themed tearjerker, perhaps, but it’s also a movie about how we manage, to quote the great Lily Tomlin in Paul Weitz’s “Grandma,” to transmogrify our lives into art.

  • A fresh, intelligent teen film... Far from a disease-of-the-week movie, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl never force-feeds emotion to its audience—but that’s not to say I wasn’t surrounded by serious sobbing by the end.

  • The Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner at this year’s Sundance is one of those clever, energetic, inventive, affecting films that end up becoming the favorite movie of a great many people, including lots who aren’t especially movie lovers (the latter won’t be put off by the fact that Me and Earl is a cinephile movie par excellence).

  • ++

    Sight & Sound: Graham Fuller
    July 31, 2015 | September 2015 Issue (pp. 62-63)

    Gomez-Rejon and cinematographer Chugn-hoon Chung (Park Chan-wook's DP) artfully depict Greg's tunnel vision perspective in a away that is expansive, using alarmingly fast dolly shots, fly-on-the-ceiling shots and, especially, wide-angle shots emphasising his mistaken belief that he is alienated.

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