Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Mann’


Independent films can often run the risk of being *too* indie. They chase after a quirky and inventive style and in the process become something that dives headfirst into a hipster, movie-snob cliche.

Sundance hit ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ approaches this invisible line hundreds of times, tip toeing up to the abyss between art and schtick and almost daring itself to cast itself into the void of unmet potential. One slip, one false mood, it seems, would be all it takes to veer dangerously off course.

But it doesn’t. Instead, at every turn, Me and Earl stays firm with both feet planted on the ground and the result is a Russian nesting doll of themes, moods and shooting styles that tell a poignant coming-of-age story and serve as cat nip to cinephiles.

Me and Earl centers on Greg (Thomas Mann) a high school senior who prides himself on being a nation of one who has made no enemies by maintaining armed neutrality among the social cliques. The closest he comes to having an actual friend is Earl, who Greg refers to only as his “coworker” because of their shared hobby of making Sweded versions of classic cinema.

His world is shaken by the cancer diagnosis of a classmate Rachel (Bate’s Motel’s Olivia Cooke, again playing a character doomed by disease) who is thrust into Greg’s world at the insistence of his mother (Connie Britton). At first obligatory, Greg and Rachel soon blossom into an sincere and meaningful friendship that shakes and ultimately shatters Greg’s status quo of aloof isolation.

The film deals itself a hand of winning cards, chief among them being the winning performance of the three young leads, the gallery of charming supporting characters (Nick Offerman once again has a ball as the indie-movie father, a character opposite to but reminiscent of the one he played in The Kings of Summer) and, notably, a series of movie-in-movie vignettes showing Greg and Earl’s library of film re-imaginations.

But the film has a dark side as well, as Rachel’s condition deteriorates bringing her closer to her titular role and Greg, as a result, is sent flailing. Her story, and the toll it takes on the other characters, makes for a juxtoposed balancing act of quirky fun and often beautiful sadness.

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon handles the transitions well, but some audience members may feel whiplash bouncing from comedy to drama and back in so short a time span. That majority, however, will find themselves watching the rare film that isn’t afraid of shirking convention and forging its on path, even while paying homage to familiar titles from the Hollywood canon.

Grade: A

*Me and Earl and the Dying Girl opens in select market on June 12 and in Utah on Friday, June 26.


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