“We make films. We've been making them since we were little...”
I usually try my hardest to stay away from Young Adult books and movies. I work in a library where I shelve books and since it is the summer I have been shelving a lot of YA books. I have tried to read some in the past (The Mortal Instruments…. The first book… WTF?) and I just cannot get into them. I was never into YA books even when I was a teenager. While putting away books some months ago I came across Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I figured it was a typical sappy teen story where a girl is dying and this boy and his friend try to make her feel happy by making videos for her. Well, I was half right. I did not read the book but I did just see the movie without even knowing what the story was. And it was not that bad.
Greg is in his last year of high school. For the past four years he was able to keep a low profile and not be put into any typical high school grouping. He has a “co-worker” named Earl that he has known since they were kids. Greg refuses to call Earl his friend for a reason that I now forget. Everyday Earl and Greg sit their history teacher’s office away from the other students to have their lunch.
For as long as they have been friends Greg and Earl have watched films released through the Criterion Collection and then made their own films based on those films with different titles. They even make their own DVD cases in the style of the Criterion cases. Greg does not let anyone else but him and Earl watch their films despite him keeping the cases downstairs in his living room.
One day Greg’s mother comes to his room to tell him that a girl he may know named Rachel has leukemia. His mother wants him to go over and hang out with Rachel. Greg does not want to do this because he knows that he is just being forced to go and see her out of pity. He goes over to Rachel’s and she knows he has also been sent over by his mother out of pity. Like all teen movies where the two teens start out as opposites and cannot see anything to really like in the other, Greg and Rachel become friends. Because they become friends and because Rachel has more friends, Greg’s anonymity in his school all but collapses much to his dismay.
Earl gives Rachel some of their homemade movies to watch much to Greg’s disapproval. Rachel likes their movies they offer her a silly distraction from all her chemotherapy and not feeling well. Greg begins to go over to her house every day to watch his movies with her and spend time with her.
Greg decides to suck it up and eat lunch in the cafeteria one day. The popular girl Madison who is also Rachel’s friend asks him to make a movie for Rachel. Greg does not want to but Earl hears about it and he agrees for the both of them. Almost from the moment he begins to make the video for Rachel Greg’s world starts to go downhill. He stopped doing his homework, his grades slip so far that his academic standing falls and the college he applied to has been rescinded his admittance. The video and his feelings for Rachel eventually become too much for Greg to handle.
Greg does manage to finish his movie for Rachel. The night he shows her the movie he made for her, Rachel begins to slip into a coma and a few days later she dies.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was good. Of course I loved all the Criterion Collection movie references. And what was even cooler was that a lot of the shots in the movie I recognized as being taken from some of the Criterion films. There were some scenes that I recognized from Henri-Georges Clouzot’s unfinished film The Inferno of which a documentary was released on Criterion. That made me happy to see because I really like that documentary and the film would have been really awesome had it been completed. Another thing I really liked about the story of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was that Greg and Earl like movies but they were pretentious assholes about their love of movies and those on the Criterion Collection. Usually when a character in a movie or TV show likes the kind of films that Criterion releases- art house- they are written as kind like being assholes and movie snobs. Greg and Earl had fun making their own movies and did not think they were anything great for doing so. I enjoyed Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I really liked how it was not a typical teen movie. It was a bit hipster-ish but I will forgive that because it was well written, acted, and directed. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is definitely worth seeing.