Me and Earl and The Dying Girl Review – An Outstanding Teen Drama Worth Seeing

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Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, from FOX Searchlight Pictures and Indian Paintbrush, presents a teen angst drama that provides an emotional roller coaster in triplicate as two friends become a trio over senior year fighting the known, unknown and unimaginable twists of fate.

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl stars Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler with Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Connie Britton and Matt Bennett, Katherine Hughes, Masam Holden and Bobb'e J. Thompson. Based on the novel of the same name Me and Earl and The Dying Girl was adapted for the screen by Jesse Andrews.

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl begins as our hero in transition, Gregg, played brilliantly by Thomas Mann, through voice over and fun claymation shows the mind of a senior in high school dealing with the unfathomable emotion of immorality.

As he tells this tale of life the viewer follows him through the all too familiar world of well his world of navigating high school. He has becomes the Henry Kissinger of high school students, he is the Secretary of State, I come in peace to all lands, as he traverses the highways, byways and hallways of high school.

On this day, he explains the difficulties of surviving even a single day in the no man's land of the free for all cafeteria and opts for the solitude of his history teacher, Mr. McCarthy's office, played by Jon Bernthanl, which is where we met Earl, played by relatively newcomer RJ Cycler, who is oddly, for a moment, immersed in foreign film.

Soon Gregg's first day of school is done and he is back home engrossed in his pastime, which borders of full immersion porn and procrastination to his real hobbies of film-making.

As Gregg contemplates the future his parents, an oddly eccentric couple, father a sociology professor, played by Nick Offerman, with a penchant for exotic food and foreign cinema, and a mother who is, well, the mom, loving, demonstrative always guiding Gregg to do the right thing even when it is the most painful thing in the world even it if makes him want to transform into an altered state.

Today, of course, is no different as Gregg's Mom, played by Connie Britton, breaks the very sad news that Rachel, played by Olivia Cooke, who gives an impressive performance, has Leukemia. Unfortunately, for Gregg this is not the worst of it. The worst of it is that his mother wants him to visit her and actually, hang out with the dying girl.

Oh, and, there's more as Gregg is also given the task of choosing his poison for the next four years as he is required to pick a college and apply to it.

So off he goes to meet the dying girl and thus begins the year of the unlikely friendship that started with the sad news which, for a high school teen engrossed in his own nucleus, made no difference.

Our duo, Gregg and Earl, budding filmmakers becomes the back story as in voice over we hear how their friendship was forged through the ups and downs of grade school, middle school, puberty and high school, through social and racial differences, an unlikely and lasting relationship was built or so it seems.

Rachel travels through this time suddenly on a different path, and while she has every right, especially as a high school student to feel bitter over the cards dealt, she remains unusually strong until chemo becomes the single most daunting opponent.

Cancer seemed to be beatable until chemotherapy batters the body, mind, spirit, and takes a heavy toll. She lost her hair, her resolve and her fight. No rope a dope win for our girl as cancer knocks the wind and will out of her.

Her Mom, Denise, played by Molly Shannon, in a homage performance to The Graduate and Mrs. Robinson, finds the wine cabinet a strong comforter as she deals with her dying child as a single mother.

Gifted, her performance was tragic and funny as she over the course of the year watches her child handling a catastrophic disease with aplomb and finally make a very personal and adult decision.

For more than simple cinematic value I truly enjoyed Me and Earl and The Dying Girl.

The heartbreaking story of Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is superbly acted, directed and written. Our teens, at times, handle the tragedy of monumental unfairness gracefully and as cancer takes its toll on their friend, it erodes all relationships.

The media day, held recently at the historic Beverly Hilton, featured Thomas Mann, RJ Cycler and Olivia Cooke and Alfonso Gomez- Rejon and writer Jesse Andrews. Below are excerpts and the interviews, in their entirety, will follow separately.

I found the talent impressively dedicated to pulling out the deep emotions needed for roles. Olivia told the story of cutting her hair to put her in the mental place of handling the scenes where chemo causes her character's hair to fall out. She was extraordinary.

Thomas Mann and Olivia spoke of their personal lives as friends and each finding out the latest news on casting from each other and according to Thomas, Olivia "actually told me I got the role. Before my agent. She wasn't supposed to but she did."

RJ surprised the entire room with his story of life before "Earl" and how he and his family were living basically out of a hotel and he "screamed like a girl when he found out he got the role."

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl will make you laugh, cry, hope and hurt. The performances are world class and equally impressive. The supporting cast brings life to every scene and leaves a memorable moment to ponder.

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl opens Friday, June 12, 2015. This is a gem worth seeing.

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