Sunday, September 27, 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Writer:   Jesse Andrews
Cast:      Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke

High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

It is an adaptation of Jesse Andrews' novel with the same name and his screenplay for the film featured in 2012 Black List of Hollywood's unproduced screenplays. The director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon got interested in the project after reading a leaked copy of the script and decided to make this as he was looking to make a personal film after the death of his father. He had previously assisted the likes of Martin Scorsese and Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu. Brian Eno scored the film using a combination of unreleased recordings and a few original compositions. The film got screened at Sundance Film Festival, where it got a standing ovation, and was picked up by Fox Searchlight Pictures. 

It must have been really a difficult film to market since by the sounds of it, it looks like a really cliched story-line. The spoof films that they have done had the potential to wreck the movie if it was included in a self-indulgent manner. But the director manages to pull it off with great restraint as we are shown only glimpses of it and I had to really pause the film to catch up with the frame on the left. It does help that the films that they are spoofing are world film classics and its always nice when you do a spoof voice-over of Werner Herzog. Some of the tropes in the film, like managing the audience's expectation by being upfront about its intentions and cliche-breaking, is not really novel but is done in a neat manner. Despite its veneer of apparent cliche-breaking it is quite replete with nerdy indie film cliches like the nature of parents characters, teachers etc. But you do get surprised by how well it worked for you in a matter of fact fashion.

Overall, it is a very good watch with good performances from all concerned. Film is really about the 'Me' in the title and Thomas Mann carries the role well. There is a clever misdirection involved wrt the fate of 'Dying Girl' that is there to get us invested in the story. By the end, it might feel a bit disingenuous for some but I didn't mind it. 50-50 is a cancer film done well in a comedic fashion and this is another one that could be added to that list.

Rating: 3.5/5