I find it difficult to review this one as to be perfectly honest I completely loved it, it’s the best thing I’ve seen all year; it’s clever and funny and quirky and just so very sad. Greg’s (Thomas Mann) mom informs him that one of his classmates Rachel (Olivia Cooke) has Leukemia, before then telling him that he has to spend time with her and she won’t take no for an answer. So there begins a doomed adventure, a mixture of a wonderful blossoming friendship interspersed with chemo-therapy and hair-loss. Greg is not the most social of people, referring to his only friend Earl (R J Cyler) as a colleague with whom he makes spoof versions of serious films…which no one is permitted to watch of course.
Thomas Mann hasn’t quite yet been in the limelight, he took the lead in Project X or you may have noticed him in teen movies like Fun Size and Beautiful Creatures but it’s definitely his time to shine in Me and Earl and The Dying Girl. It’s a strange combination of socially awkward and socially accepted, he manages to somehow be outgoing and self-loathing at the same time, he’s just the nerdy guy that everyone seems to get along with, while he doesn’t really like any of them. Greg is an interesting and actually fairly talented guy who just needs someone who will push him so that he can see that, and that person is Rachel (Cooke). Personally I’ve been a fan of Cooke for years ever since she was in BBC series The Secret Of Crickley Hall, and even more so finding out about and loving her as Emma in Bates Motel. I cannot deny I am biased to seeing the British underdogs do well in America, there are quite a lot of them these days but Cooke is definitely one who should have a bright career ahead of her. As Rachel she’s fantastic, what more is there to say really, managing to successfully and convincingly play a devastating character with such strength and conviction at such a young age; it’s a great reminder that there are teenagers all over the world just like this character who are battling their own cancers and illnesses inspiring other people.
R J Cyler is the perfectly non-committal and at the same time best friend to Greg, and maybe he doesn’t have the feminine touch to really push Greg into believing in himself for long enough to put himself out there a little, but he gives it a go. There’s also the forever love-able Nick Offerman playing Greg’s Dad, a very strange and unconventional man who may not really say that much (unless it’s related to unheard of disgusting foods) but a great addition. Not forgetting Molly Shannon as Rachel’s very friendly mother who is forever holding a glass of wine and Jon Bernthal as the tattooed and slightly odd friend/history teacher.
It’s a story that will simultaneously warm and break your heart, and one that will stick with me for a long time. It’s so tragic it will have you reaching for the tissues, and yet it’s a charming and funny film.
This is definitely one for those of you that liked films such as Beginners and Gus Van Sant’s Restless.