Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (film)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a 2015 American comedy-drama film directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and written by Jesse Andrews, based on Andrews' 2012 debut novel of the same name. The film stars Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, and Jon Bernthal. The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival to a standing ovation. It received positive reviews from critics, who praised the screenplay and cast.
|Me and Earl and the Dying Girl|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon|
|Screenplay by||Jesse Andrews|
|Based on||Me and Earl and the Dying Girl|
by Jesse Andrews
|Edited by||David Trachtenberg|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$9.1 million|
Awkward, lanky, and self-loathing, 18 year old Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann), who describes himself having the face of “a little groundhog”, is a senior at Pittsburgh's Schenley High School who appears to drift through life while only seeming to broadly associate himself with the various cliques within Schenley's halls. He learns that a fellow student and former childhood friend of his, Rachel Kushner (Olivia Cooke), has been diagnosed with leukemia and is forced by his parents (Nick Offerman and Connie Britton) to befriend her in her time of need. Despite an extremely awkward first encounter on Rachel’s staircase, neither of them truly wanting the other's company until Greg manages to strike up a conversation about her pillow collection. She finds his quirky personality endearing and they make plans to meet on a regular basis.
Over time, Greg introduces Rachel to his longtime co-worker Earl (RJ Cyler), in a visit to Rachel before she loses her hair to treatment, with whom he makes short films parodying famous film titles. At Greg's reluctance, Earl convinces Greg to share their collection of short films with her, which she finds entertaining. As Rachel begins chemotherapy, her disease worsens, and Greg begins spending less time at school and more time with and caring for her.
Discovering them shooting another film, Madison (Katherine C. Hughes), Greg's crush, convinces Greg and Earl to make a film dedicated to Rachel, and Rachel persuades Greg to apply to a local college. Despite being accepted by the college, Greg continues to ignore schoolwork, and eventually school altogether, in order to finish the film. After realizing that her chemotherapy is doing more harm than good, Rachel opts to discontinue her treatment. Greg and Rachel have a heated argument over her choice where she points out his unwillingness to do anything selfless unless he's told to do so. He leaves, devastated that he can no longer help her.
In a rage, Greg confronts Earl, blaming him for the events leading to the end of his friendship with Rachel. Earl in turn admonishes Greg's inability to care and sympathize for anyone but himself despite the genuine affection she gave him, and ultimately punches Greg after the latter dares him to. Later, Earl gives Greg a heartfelt testimonial for Rachel before letting him know that he's finished with their friendship. Greg is also told that due to his failing grades, he has been rejected by the college he thought he would attend.
Later in the year, Greg's mom lets him know that Rachel has been moved into a hospice, which Greg originally believes to be for more treatment, before learning that she is in hospital to die, which only depresses him further. Taking pity on him, Madison invites him to the prom. However, after dressing up in a tuxedo, he decides not to go to pick up Madison but instead goes to the hospital where Rachel is receiving hospice care. During the journey to the hospital, Greg is asked by the limo driver if he loves Rachel, a question he finds himself unable to answer. To the hospital, he brings his iPhone and a portable projector and places a corsage around Rachel’s wrist before running the film he made for Rachel on the front wall of her room, lying beside her as they did when they watched his other films. Rachel is moved to tears by the movie. However, while viewing the film, she falls into a coma, dying a few hours later.
At her Shiva, Greg is comforted by Rachel’s mom, as they grieve together for their loss. Earl and Greg reconcile and rekindle their friendship. During the funeral, Greg sneaks up into Rachel's room, after sadly glancing up at Rachel’s staircase that reminds him of his and her first encounter after many years. Greg finds a card to him from her explaining that she wrote a letter to the college Greg applied to in order to let them know that he missed school for her sake. In a personal letter to Greg, Rachel states her wish for Greg to take any of her possessions that he pleases. Rachel also explains through the letter that she sent to the college that Greg was the kindest and most caring person she had ever met after stating “No one has done more to make me smile than he has. And no one ever could.” Greg also finds several intricate carvings within her books depicting scenes of her with Greg and Earl, proving that she still cared for him. Greg leaves with one of the books containing a personal carving and his favorite of Rachel's pillows.
Some time later, Greg writes his story of his time with Rachel (which is the basis for the film's narrative) and mails it to the college along with the film he made for her with a warning that “the last person who saw this immediately went into a coma and DIED.”
- Thomas Mann as Greg Gaines
- Gavin Dietz as young Greg
- Olivia Cooke as Rachel Kushner
- RJ Cyler as Earl Jackson
- Edward DeBruce III as young Earl
- Nick Offerman as Mr. Gaines
- Molly Shannon as Denise Kushner
- Jon Bernthal as Mr. McCarthy
- Connie Britton as Mrs. Gaines
- Chelsea T. Zhang as Naomi
- Katherine C. Hughes as Madison
- Natalie Marchelletta as Anna
- Matt Bennett as Scott Mayhew
- Bobb'e J. Thompson as Derrick
- Hugh Jackman as Himself (voice)
- Karriem Sami as Limo Driver
- Marco Zappala as Theater Dork
- Etta Cox as Principal
- Masam Holden as Ill Phil
- Kaza Marie Ayersman as Rachel's Friend
- Cheryl Kline as Rabbi
- Joan Augustin as Elderly Mourner
- Mark Granatire as Testimonial Student #1
- Kayana White as Testimonial Student #2
- Linda Kanyarusoke as Testimonial Student #3
- Drew Palajsa as Testimonial Student #4
- Elly Silberstein as Testimonial Student #5
- Nicole Tubbs as Children's Hospital Nurse
Screenwriter Dan Fogelman decided to produce the film after reading a manuscript of the 2012 novel Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The production company Indian Paintbrush and producers Steven M. Rales and Jeremy Dawson then got involved. Having never read or written a script before, Jesse Andrews adapted his own New York Times best-selling novel. Andrews' screenplay appeared on the 2012 Black List of Hollywood's best unproduced screenplays. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon became interested in the project after reading a leaked copy of the script. He had worked as a production assistant and second-unit director for Nora Ephron, Martin Scorsese and Alejandro González Iñárritu, and had been looking to direct his first personal film, to express his own cinematic vision and his grief for his late father.
The film was shot over a four-week period for an estimated budget of under $5 million. Principal photography began on June 13, 2014, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; they started filming high school scenes on June 16. Cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung shot the film digitally using Arri Alexa cameras with prime and anamorphic lenses in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. A Pittsburgh native, writer Jesse Andrews' family home in Point Breeze was used as Greg's house in the film. Rachel's house was located in Squirrel Hill, and Earl's house was in Braddock. Other locations included Schenley High School (closed since 2008), The Andy Warhol Museum, Copacetic Comics in Polish Hill, and a street corner in West Oakland, which served as an ice cream shop. The Criterion Collection lent its library of classic films for use in the book-and-DVD store in the film.
Brian Eno scored the film using a combination of previously unreleased recordings and a few original compositions; Nico Muhly composed the music for the beginning high school sequence and final credits. Filmmakers Edward Bursch and Nathan O. Marsh made 21 stop motion animated and live-action short films to represent Greg and Earl's classic film parodies, including the final short film made for Rachel set to Brian Eno's "The Big Ship". Differing from the novel, director Gomez-Rejon felt the final film should reflect Greg's artistic growth and express his love for Rachel in an abstract way, using color, texture, and shapes, similar to the work of Stan Brakhage.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl premiered on January 25, 2015 at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, to a standing ovation. The film was acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures for $12 million in a bidding war hours after its premiere, and won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and the Audience Award for U.S. Drama at the festival. On February 24, it was announced the film had been scheduled for a limited release on July 1, 2015 in the United States. On March 10, it was stated that the film would instead be released on June 12, 2015. The film had a gradual theatrical release, opening in 15 art house theaters, expanding to 68, and then to more than 350 screens. The film went wide to 870 theaters during the July Fourth holiday. It was released in the UK on September 4, 2015.
The film's official trailer was released on April 8, 2015, and the official poster was released on April 20. Two clips were released in May 2015, and on May 20 the international trailer was released. The movie tie-in edition of the book was released on May 26, 2015.
The film was released on video on demand on September 18, 2015, and DVD and Blu-ray on October 6, 2015. The DVD and Blu-ray include an audio commentary by the director, deleted scenes with optional commentary, the film made for Rachel, Greg’s trailer, and a photo gallery. The Blu-ray also includes the featurette, This Is Where You Learn How the Movie Was Made, a conversation with Martin Scorsese and Gomez-Rejon, and a montage of Greg and Earl's short films.
The film has received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 82%, based on 201 reviews, with an average of 7.5/10. The website's consensus reads "Beautifully scripted and perfectly cast, Me & Earl & the Dying Girl is a coming-of-age movie with uncommon charm and insight." The film has a score of 74 out of 100 on Metacritic, given by 40 critics, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".
Indiewire gave the film a grade of A-, describing it as "a beautifully charming, captivating knock-out". Peter Debruge of Variety wrote that the film "is destined not only to connect with young audiences in a big way, but also to endure as a touchstone for its generation". Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter later noted that the film had failed to crossover and connect with mainstream audiences, having grossed just $6.2 million in the 6 weeks after its release.
|List of Accolades|
|Award / Film Festival||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Casting Society of America||Film Studio or Independent Comedy||Angela Demo, Nancy Mosser and Katie Shenot||Won|
|Empire Awards||Best Comedy||Nominated|||
|Best Male Newcomer||Thomas Mann||Nominated|
|Best Female Newcomer||Olivia Cooke||Nominated|
|Georgia Film Critics Association||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society||The Overlooked Film of the Year||Won|
|San Diego Film Critics Awards||Best Supporting Actor, Female||Olivia Cooke||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor, Male||RJ Cyler||Nominated|
|Sundance Film Festival||Grand Jury Prize
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Chemistry||Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler||Nominated|||
|Choice Movie: Breakout Star||Thomas Mann||Nominated|
|Choice Summer Movie||Nominated|
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(Criterion Collection president Peter Becker recently told us, 'We loaned our whole library to those guys for their movie!')
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