Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015) – A surprisingly fresh and funny take on a familiar subject

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Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is a film lover’s delight. There are so many film references in it that I don’t even know where to begin. That’s because the protagonist named Greg is a major film geek. While he is not busy being socially awkward and invisible in front of his high school colleagues, he and his buddy Earl spend most of their time watching director interviews and commentaries on Youtube or making delightfully amusing parodies of some of the biggest film classics (A Clockwork Orange, Citizen Kane, Le Samourai and Midnight Cowboy to name a few). Now, these are stuff that I and every other film geek can so much relate to.

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The film is a surprisingly fresh and funny take on a subject that we’ve seen quite a number of times before in cinema. Guy meets a terminally ill girl and falls in love with her. Two major examples are Love Story and the recent The Fault in Our Stars. But the only difference here is that it’s not a love story. Well, it is and it is not in a way. As I’ve mentioned before, Greg is a film geek and he and Earl has made around 42 parody films. Earl is an African-American kid who lives in his neighborhood and is the only person in the whole world who cares about him. He is his best buddy. They kind of remind me of a much calmer and teenage version of Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega.

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One day, Greg’s parents tell him about a girl named Rachel in his school who recently learned that she has leukemia. Despite the fact that he and Rachel are not tight buddies, his parents suggest that he start hanging out with her. After he gets over the initial awkwardness, she takes a big liking to him and they gradually become great friends. Rachel soon learns that she has Stage 4 cancer and her chemotherapy makes things very difficult for her. Upon the insistence of another girl named Madison, he and Earl decide to make a film for Rachel. We start to see some strain developing in their relationship when Rachel tells him that she has stopped taking her medication.

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Even though the subject matter might sound a little sad, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon was very careful not to resort to the usual melodramatic cliches that normally accompanies these stories. Sure, there are some serious and sad moments in the film but he has managed to infuse some humor into some of them, and sometimes keep alternating between and maintains a nice balance. I didn’t care for some of the films that was honored at Sundance recently but this one was a big, pleasant surprise. It’s one of the best indie films I’ve seen. I’ll be definitely looking out for the director’s upcoming films and also all the three outstanding lead actors.

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