Friday, July 3, 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Review

It took growing up and becoming an adult for me to realize what a pile of shit being a teenager was.

I spent years of my life being so damn selfish, worrying about nonsense and ignoring what really mattered. With my friends I was myself, but the second a pretty girl walked by I had to pretend to be "cool", Here's the thing though: I wasn't cool. 31 year old me isn't cool. The difference is, I don't waste time pretending anymore and I don't give a shit what people think. Teenage me went to stores that sold overpriced, uncomfortable clothing simply because I thought I would fit in and girls would like me more. Adult me wears bright orange Grinch pajama pants to Target in July. It isn't a sign that I have given up or that I am depressed, quite the opposite actually. I love the path I have taken and I cherish the opportunity to be alive.

I just know what matters now.

I connected with the character Greg in the absolutely amazing new film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl because I see my own confused, scared and misguided teenage self in his story. No, I never made films, although trust me I wish I would have. No, I never had a best friend like Earl. No, I never spent time with a girl fighting a tragic battle with cancer. These things are part of the story but they aren't what the movie is actually about. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is about the ridiculousness of adolescence and the struggle to open your eyes and see the world through a clear lens as you grow up. It's about the selfishness of looking in the mirror rather than the rest of the people around it as you think your own silly problems are what makes the world go 'round. It's about the profound moment a human being experiences when everything becomes clear. Mine was thanks to the incredible gift of life, the moment my daughter took her first breath. I was lucky. The story of Greg and Rachel isn't quite as joyous.

Prepare yourself for tears when you sit down with this film, but it isn't all doom and gloom and devastation. In fact much of it is an incredibly clever uproariously funny comedy, a film that feels as quirky as the work of Wes Anderson and possibly framed by the man as well. Crafted ingeniously by filmmaker Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, a man that frankly I had never even heard of before this picture, I was not only moved by the story and these characters but by the confident camera, the intelligent and in my opinion flat out perfect screenplay that had to find a measured balance between the completely silly and the profoundly personal moments of connection and reflection. I was moved by the performances from this cast, with the three young stars being names and faces that meant nothing to be going in and yet they all stole my heart with their portrayals of teens in literally the same place but in completely different worlds mentally and emotionally. 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl hit every possible note for me. I laughed, I cried, I felt optimistic about the world and yet equally pessimistic about how cruel it can be. It isn't a love story, it's a story of friendship and acceptance and growing up in a way that can't be defined by the number of years you have been on the planet. It is honest and heartfelt and a tremendous cinematic achievement. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one of the best films of the year.


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