Writer: Jesse Andrews | Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon | Director of Photography: Chung-hoon Chung
To kick off my 30 days of film, I wanted to watch a film that I missed out on the first time around, when it was featured as Odeon’s ‘Screen Unseen’: Me and Earl and The Dying Girl. I kind of gathered from the title of the film that this would be something that would intrigue me, and very readily revealed the plot of the film before you’ve even pressed play. A risk I like.
Firstly, the cinematography in this film is so incredibly beautiful: the production company that worked on this film have produced Wes Anderson’s films and you can see some really lovely inspiration in the way that the shots are framed. There are beautiful wide shots with clear symmetry and a few clever views and twists (not figuratively, literally), which helps to support an important theme in the film: creativity. The use of creativity among these young teens really shows how artistic expression can help with channelling emotions that otherwise are hard to face.
I don’t want to fill this with any spoilers, so I won’t be going into any great detail about the plot or ending (you need to watch it yourself!), but the plot itself is very simple, though not in a bad way at all. The content of the dialogue along with the beautiful silent moments exquisitely framed meant that you could really feel how the characters were feeling. The acting was superb, and Olivia Cooke was truly outstanding as Rachel.
I really enjoyed the playfulness of the film too, with lots of animation throughout to really illustrate the creativity behind these teens and how colourfully they imagine life, and I feel the use of Greg narrating parts of the film was very successful.
I do wish that the characters were given a little more depth, mostly Greg and Earl, as I feel it would have given them a bit more dimension and made them a little more relatable, but at the same time that might just be me as an adult thinking that there should be more when in reality, teen me is probably thinking 'yeah, this is real'. I do like that Rachel’s character was quiet and mysterious, and this played into the plot very nicely. The lack of strength in the character development may relate to the fact this film is adapted from a book and many elements would have been sacrificed in the screenwriting process, so I might have to read the book to really get a sense of the characters.
I feel like this will be one of those films I will watch over and over again (or as long as Netflix keeps it online! At which point I’ll buy it) but I highly recommend giving this a chance, despite the obvious sorrow from the name it is quite a heart-warming film.
Images copyright of Indian Paintbrush.