There was one time I went to the cinema – it was to see Charlie’s Angels back in 2000 – when half way through the film it dawned on me; what I was watching was a load of absolute crap. Sitting there, I just thought to myself “I’m really not enjoying this at all”.
Truly it was a waste of time and money.
And that’s stuck with me throughout the years.
Today was the opposite.
Sitting in the cinema on my own – seriously, there wasn’t a single other person there – an hour in to watching the newly released Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, it occurred to me “This is absolutely brilliant”.
The funny thing is that I find movies of this understated, almost lazy indie genre to be very hit and miss. You know, that sort of ‘Michael Cera Awkward School Kid In A Sleepy Dismal Town’ genre that was in vogue 7 or 8 years ago. Sometimes, in the hope of being ‘indie’ it’s as if they forget that the viewers are looking to be entertained.
But I’ve got to say, even though it seems to get some pretty mixed reviews – of the few reviews I could find, one gave it two stars and another gave it five – I’m happy to stick up for it.
I’m getting ahead of myself though…
Movies: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Review: What’s It About?
Based on a novel of the same name, it’s about a 17-year-old socially awkward schoolboy, who is coerced by his mother to spend some time with a classmate he barely knows who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. Naturally a strong friendship forms.
Movies: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Review: Who’s In It?
The lead characters Greg, his friend Earl and the girl, Rachel are played by Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler and Olivia Cooke respectively. It also stars the likes of Connie Britton, Nick Offerman and Jon Bernthal in adult roles.
Movies: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Review: So Why Do I Like It?
In spite of this movie not having the most dynamic of plots, I just thought it nailed what it wanted to do perfectly.
At times it was laugh-out-loud funny (the mock-up films that Greg and Earl made were worthy of a chuckle) and yet it also managed to be really sad as well.
This told a story, and though I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you by giving anything away, it told it well.
But I think what perhaps stood out the most was the presentation. The actors – specifically Mann and Cooke – were fantastic, and their performances were captured impeccably by the director, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
Lingering shots at unusual – but not arty-farty – angles sold the emotional impact of scenes and the narration, both in terms of what Mann was saying and the text on the screen (e.g. ‘The Day I Got Into My First Fight’ and ’12o Days Into This Doomed Friendship’) gave it a very slick feel. The pacing too was spot on because it never felt like it sank into a lull at any point.
Really, this was just a touching and charming movie that will put a smile on your face and bring a tear to your eye.
Like most movies of its genre, it is understated, but it’s beautifully understated, and ended up feeling very real.
It’s easily the best movie I’ve seen at the cinema this year, with only Whiplash coming close.
It would be a real shame to let this one go without seeing it, so I hope it gets more than one person showing up to subsequent performances.
So get yourself along to it when you’ve got the time.