Have you heard about the film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl?
In this post we get into movie reviewer mode to share our thoughts.
Warning, our overview does contain spoilers!
Last year at this time The Fault in Our Stars made headlines, creating a spotlight on Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer and making us all fall in love with Hazel and Gus. This year, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl offers a new perspective on experiencing cancer as a High School teenager. Inspired by Jesse Andrew’s New York Times bestselling book of the same name and winner of the Sundance U.S. Dramatic Audience Award the film explores cancer through the lens of a teenager, who doesn’t have cancer.
The title character, Me, is Greg a senior in high school who thinks he has a face that resembles a groundhog. His goal is to survive high school, though he’s not sure what he wants to do next. He prides himself on knowing all the cliques and yet remaining invisible at the same time. Greg spends his lunch period in his tattooed history teacher’s office; at home he is fed exotic cuisine by his dad, such as pig’s feet on skewers. His only friend is Earl who Greg refers to as his co-worker. Greg and Earl have made over 40 spoof films together including ‘Senior Citizen Cane’ and ‘Sockwork Orange.’ While these characters sometimes seem to be embodying stereotypes (the loner, the too cool for school teacher, the absent minded professor/dad and the friend from the other side of town) they remind the audience that your teenage years can be filled with uncertainty and that it doesn’t always matter who is in your life as long as they fill a need you have.
We meet Rachel, aka the dying girl, after her mother calls Greg’s mother to share the news of Rachel’s leukemia diagnosis. Sound familiar to anyone? Greg is pestered by his mother into visiting Rachel who he refers to as an acquaintance. Their unlikely friendship evolves from his asking Rachel to do him a favor; to let him hang out with her so his mother will get off his back. We could be cynical and take issue with the reason why Greg visits Rachel or get hung up on Greg remaining caught up in himself, but we noticed how frequently he visits Rachel. Anyone who has experienced cancer may relate to the unchartered territory or the isolation that can follow a diagnosis. For months, he often goes over to Rachel’s house or visits her in the hospital while she is in treatment. He is there for her when she is unsure how to react to friends who have recently learned about her diagnosis, when she’s lost all of her hair, when she changes her attitude of saying she is sick to feeling like she is dying and finally when she decides to end treatment. While he might not be her best friend, he certainly counts as a good friend!
Facing one’s mortality is hard and Greg struggles as well. The second half of the film captured our attention, with two of the most poignant moments occurring when Greg realizes he can’t make Rachel continue treatment and then when he is able to say goodbye to Rachel after learning more about her, even though she is no longer physically there. We get to see Greg move from a static, self-involved adolescent to a future seeking young adult, a transformation all the more powerful because it is a lesson he learned from his relationship with Rachel.
Our verdict. We recommend seeing the film, for its promotion of AYA cancer awareness as well as the often overlooked impact cancer has on those around the individuals who are diagnosed. Greg and Earl’s movie making skills are another fun reason to check this film out!
If you see the film, let us know what you think by adding a Comment!
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