Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a Fox Searchlight Pictures film directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (America Horror Story) and is based off of a novel written by Jesse Andrews.The movie features the acting talents of Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, John Bernthal, and Katherine C Hughes.
Greg (Mann) is a student who spends his time making film parodies with Earl (Cyler) who he calls hi co-worker while carefully navigating what he sees as an impenetrable class system within the hallways and cafeteria of his high school. When Rachel (Cooke), a classmate he barely knows, is diagnosed with leukemia, her mom and Greg's mom force the two into spend to spending time together in an effort to get him to interact more with the outside world and to give her a friend during this troubling time in what could be a very short life. Thus begins an odd and awkward journey of getting to know each other, dealing with mental and emotional issues, and coming to terms with futures neither of them really want to deal with.
The first thing I will say is that the casting of the film is absolutely, spot on perfect. Each actor brings such an honest reality to their characters that you instantly feel like you know them personally which is very important as the story jumps into some pretty deep and emotional subject matter. Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke work so well together and not in a way where you feel like Greg and Rachel are meant to be together. Just the opposite, you really feel like these are two kids who don't know each other and, if they hadn't been instructed to spend time together, never would have cared to make it happen on their own. This sort of awkward distance and lack of interest from both parties works as a great starting point which Alfonso Gomez-Rejon uses to great effect as the story unfolds.
With a resume that mostly includes the American Horror Story and Glee TV shows, one might not expect a director like Gomez-Rejon to take on this very complex and emotional story, but it turns out he was perfectly suited for the job. Also, keep in mind this is a very funny movie that starts out playing like a John Hughes style high school comedy, but slowly evolves into something much more than that. About halfway through, you realize that there will be many emotions felt as character arcs play out, relationships build and falter, and predictability pretty much goes out the window. Seriously, every time you start to think you know what's about to happen, you suddenly realize that Jesse Andrews found just about every left turn imaginable when he originally wrote the novel this film is based on.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a really good, smart, fun, and emotional movie that defies labeling and dares you to try and figure out exactly what it's trying to be. Ultimately, this is a coming of age tale for the modern generation that manages to stay fresh and inventive while tackling timeless themes of fear, friendship, and loss.