“Me And Earl And The Dying Girl”, A Bittersweet Movie About Life

My high school memories aren’t ones I’m particularly fond of and I normally don’t ever dwell on them primarily for that reason. While I have come to terms with that period of my life and been able to let all the pain go I experienced back then, there are movies and television shows I still occasionally watch that clearly remind me of a time of my life that was extremely difficult. One such movie that did just that to me recently was “Me And Earl And The Dying Girl”.

The film is about a senior named Greg (Thomas Mann), who considers himself quite the loner. He has only one friend named Earl (RJ Cyler) yet has never been able to call him that because of the seriously low opinion he has of himself. Sadly, this has led him to do whatever he can for years to keep a low profile and stay invisible everywhere, especially at school. One such way has been to avoid eating his lunch in the cafeteria where the dozens of cliques run rampant, none of which he feels a part of. Instead, he eats with Earl everyday in one of his teacher’s office and there usually talks of nothing more than the hobby he and Earl have done for years. Both have actually been making home movies that are parodies of real life cinema since childhood. One day though, a wrench is thrown in Greg’s boxed-in world when his neurotic mother (Connie Britton) tells him that one of his classmates (someone he barely knows), Rachel (Olivia Cooke), was diagnosed with cancer. She first guilts him into contacting her by phone to offer his company, and then a second time to actually go over to her house, when Rachel refuses his initial offer. From the time he steps foot in her home and meets both her and her mother Denise (played by a very funny Molly Shannon), it’s obvious that the whole situation is very awkward for both. But after Earl tells her the truth about his mother’s guilty coercion, a very sweet and occasionally sorrowful story begins to unfold, as the two become the oddest of friends.

While “Me And Earl And The Dying Girl” was mostly about Rachel’s unraveling of Greg’s rather lonely and depressing view of the world, I related more strongly to the life he had before she began to play such a big role within it. Back in my own high school days, until I became a chameleon and did a full adaptation into the coolest clique, I had only one friend myself, and his name was Jason. I mostly played basketball and Nintendo with him and never quite felt like I fit in anywhere. I thought I was ugly, felt no one cared about me, and absolutely despised the cafeteria where I was either totally ignored or bullied. Watching Greg in this film loathe himself in so many ways distinctly reminded me of how I once was. Thankfully though, I don’t feel that way anymore and was able to find an immense amount of gratitude in how much I’ve grown, all by watching Greg in the movie.

But regardless of having to relive some of my own high school drama, I would definitely recommend seeing “Me And Earl And The Dying Girl” and give it four out of five stars. Its bittersweet story, the depth of acting, the well-placed humor and the creative imagery used throughout it shows why it’s already garnered top honors from the Sundance Film Festival and probably more later in the awards season. And oh, by the way, if you wondering why I didn’t give the movie the full five stars, it’s only because I’m not a fan of sad endings. 🙂

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson