“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” was absolutely wonderful and fantastic. Strangely enough, given the subject matter, it proved to be one of the biggest crowd pleasers of this years Viennale, and if you’d force me to pick my favorite movie that I’ve seen at the Viennale this year, this would be it. Unfortunately, I’ll have to get into spoiler-territory in my review, so if you haven’t seen it yet, just know that it comes with my highest recommendation.
————————– SPOILERS AHEAD! ————————–
First of all: As we’re all aware, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” isn’t the only teenage-cancer-dramedy coming out of Hollywood recently, and while it and “The Fault In Our Stars” (which I also liked very much) definitely share some similarities, I don’t really think that you can compare them – mostly because of the fact that TFIOS is, first and foremost, a (tragic) love story. Granted, there’s definitely a hint of love between Greg and Rachel that suggests that under different circumstances, they very well might have ended up together, but even though there seem to be stronger feelings between them than simple friendship, they never act on them. Which definitely separates this from TFIOS, and in my book only made it all the more tragic (to – once again – quote Tennyson: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.).
MAEATDG further benefited from the fact that in this case, I totally didn’t expect where this was going, the main reason for that probably being that I’m a very trusting soul. So when in the middle of the movie, the main protagonist, who (kinda) narrates the movie, tells me that I shouldn’t worry and everything’s going to be fine, of course I believe him – despite all warning signs that point to the opposite (not the least of which being the fucking title). Stupid, silly me. And even though during the last third of the movie, I finally started to consider that he might be a lying sonofabitch after all, the ending nevertheless hit me like a punch in the gut. Seriously, after the scenes in the hospital, the memorial service, and her letter, I was a complete emotional wreck – but in a good way. Pretty much the only thing that I didn’t like about the movie was the fact that they didn’t trust the audience enough to remember his teacher’s words from before, about how we can get to know someone better even after they’re gone. But that really is just a minor quibble.
Despite the tragic – but never weepy – outcome, for a very long time “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is actually very funny. Their home-made movies/parodies were absolutely hilarious, the voice over commentary – something that can go terribly wrong – was equally entertaining, and I also loved all the dynamics that were going on at the high school. What was also great is that over the course of the movie, there’s a noticeable character development for Greg, who starts off as a rather shallow, cynical person. And the cast was absolutely great, be it the youngsters (special mention has to go out to Olivia Cooke for an extremely emotive performance, but I also really enjoyed Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler in their respective roles) or the veterans (Connie Britton, Nick Offerman, Jon Bernthal, just to name a few). All these strengths, together with the great script by Jesse Andrews (based on his own novel) as well as Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s tonally flawless direction, add up to one of the best movies that I’ve seen all year.