Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (film)

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Me & Earl & the Dying Girl (film) POSTER.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Produced by
Screenplay by Jesse Andrews
Based on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews
Starring
Music by
Cinematography Chung-hoon Chung
Edited by David Trachtenberg
Production
company
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • January 25, 2015 (2015-01-25) (Sundance)
  • June 12, 2015 (2015-06-12) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million[2]
Box office $9.1 million[3]

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.[4] It won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and the Audience Award for U.S. Drama at the festival.[5] The film was released on June 12, 2015, by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Plot[edit]

Awkward, lanky, and self-loathing, Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) 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 neither of them truly wanting the other's company, 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), 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 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, with Earl admonishing Greg's inability to care and sympathize for anyone but himself despite the genuine affection she gave him. Afterward, 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 hospice as she begins to succumb to her disease, 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. He brings his iPhone and a portable projector and runs 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 and Earl reconcile, and Greg sneaks up into Rachel's room, where he 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. He 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 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.

Cast[edit]

  • 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

Production[edit]

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.[6] 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.[6][7]

The film was shot over a four-week period for an estimated budget of under $5 million.[8] Principal photography began on June 13, 2014, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;[9] they started filming high school scenes on June 16.[10][11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14][13] The Criterion Collection lent its library of classic films for use in the book-and-DVD store in the film.[15]

Brian Eno scored the film using a combination of previously unreleased recordings and a few original compositions;[16] Nico Muhly composed the music for the beginning high school sequence and final credits.[17] 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".[18] 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.[16]

Release[edit]

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl premiered on January 25, 2015 at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, to a standing ovation.[4] The film was acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures for $12 million in a bidding war hours after its premiere,[19] and won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and the Audience Award for U.S. Drama at the festival.[5] On February 24, it was announced the film had been scheduled for a limited release on July 1, 2015 in the United States.[20] On March 10, it was stated that the film would instead be released on June 12, 2015.[21] 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.[22] It was released in the UK on September 4, 2015.[23]

Marketing[edit]

The film's official trailer was released on April 8, 2015,[24] and the official poster was released on April 20.[25] Two clips were released in May 2015,[26][27] and on May 20 the international trailer was released.[28] The movie tie-in edition of the book was released on May 26, 2015.[29]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on video on demand on September 18, 2015, and DVD and Blu-ray on October 6, 2015.[30] 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.[31]

Reception[edit]

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

The film has received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 82%, based on 188 reviews, with an average of 7.6/10. The site's consensus reads "Beautifully scripted and perfectly cast, Me & Earl & the Dying Girl is a coming-of-age movie with uncommon charm and insight."[32] The film has a score of 74 out of 100 on Metacritic, given by 40 critics, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[33]

Indiewire gave the film a grade of A-, describing it as "a beautifully charming, captivating knock-out".[34] 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".[4] 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. The similarly-themed The Fault in Our Stars had grossed $124.9 million in the U.S. in mid-2014.[22]

Accolades[edit]

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 [35][36]
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
(U.S. Drama)
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Won [37]
Audience Award
(U.S. Drama)
Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Chemistry Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler Nominated [38]
Choice Movie: Breakout Star Thomas Mann Nominated
Choice Summer Movie Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. May 29, 2015. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 
  2. ^ "'Me & Earl & the Dying Girl' lights up Sundance Film Festival". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 14, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 16, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Debruge, Peter (1 February 2015). "Sundance Film Review: ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’". Variety. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Puig, Claudia (1 February 2015). "'Me and Earl' wins top 2 Sundance awards". Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Anderson, John (June 5, 2015). "Jesse Andrews Learns on the Fly to Write ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’". The New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  7. ^ Macaulay, Scott (April 28, 2015). "I’ll Come Running: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Jesse Andrews on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl". Filmmaker. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  8. ^ Machosky, Michael (June 17, 2014). "Point Breeze author: 'Me and Earl' is renegade brother of 'Fault'". TribLive. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  9. ^ Christine (June 13, 2014). "‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ begins filming in Pittsburgh". onlocationvacations.com. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  10. ^ Sostek, Anya (June 2, 2014). "'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' to start filming in East End". post-gazette.com. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  11. ^ "ON THE SET FOR 6/16/14: BOXING DRAMA ‘SOUTHPAW’ STARTS, ‘AMERICAN ULTRA’ WRAPS". studiosystemnews.com. June 16, 2014. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  12. ^ Silberg, Jon (June 23, 2015). "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl': Conveying the Complexity of the Adolescent Experience". Creative Planet Network. NewBay Media. Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Machosky, Michael (June 15, 2015). "Pittsburgh-shot 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' gets red-carpet welcome". TribLive. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  14. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (June 24, 2015). "'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' director found Pittsburgh picture perfect". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  15. ^ Eisner, Ken (10 June 2015). "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl gets told in high style". The Georgia Straight. Vancouver Free Press. Retrieved 29 July 2015. (Criterion Collection president Peter Becker recently told us, 'We loaned our whole library to those guys for their movie!') 
  16. ^ a b Goldsmith, Jeff (June 12, 2015). "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Q&A". The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith (Podcast). Event occurs at 50:02. Retrieved September 22, 2015. 
  17. ^ Gupta, Shipra Harbola (July 19, 2015). "This Mixtape By The 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' Director Is a Cinephile Indulgence". Indiewire. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
  18. ^ Watercutter, Angela (June 9, 2015). "How They Made Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’s Mini-Movies". Wired. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  19. ^ Barnes, Brook (January 26, 2015). "Pace of Deals Picks Up at Sundance Festival". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  20. ^ Dave McNary (2015-02-24). "‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ Release Date Set for July 1". Variety. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  21. ^ "Me & Earl & the Dying Girl release". Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  22. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela (July 22, 2015). "'Me and Earl' and the Dying Box Office: Why the Sundance Hit Fizzled". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - video review". The Guardian. September 3, 2015. Retrieved September 9, 2015. 
  24. ^ "ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL: Official HD Trailer". YouTube. 2015-04-08. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  25. ^ "Poster for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl". Flickeringmyth.com. 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  26. ^ "ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL: "Menu For Your Future"". YouTube. 2015-05-08. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  27. ^ "Me And Earl And The Dying Girl: "Coworkers"". YouTube. 2015-05-15. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  28. ^ "Me And Earl And The Dying Girl International Trailer | MTV UK". YouTube. 2015-05-20. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  29. ^ "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Movie Tie-in Edition) by Jesse Andrews | 9781419719462 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble". Barnesandnoble.com. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  30. ^ Fox Searchlight [@foxsearchlight] (August 19, 2015). "This is the part where #MeAndEarl comes out on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital HD" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  31. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (October 2, 2015). "Film notes: Hollywood Theater's Halloween party features B-movie, critic". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 4, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Rotten Tomato score". Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  33. ^ "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Metacritic score". Retrieved September 5, 2015. 
  34. ^ Perez, Rodrigo. "Sundance Review: Wonderfully Funny, Bittersweet and Inventive, ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ Is a Knock-Out". Indiewire. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  35. ^ Nugent, John. "Star Wars and Mad Max win big at the 2016 Jameson Empire Awards". Empire. Retrieved 2016-03-20. 
  36. ^ "Star Wars beats Mad Max at Empire awards". BBC News. 20 March 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016. 
  37. ^ "Here Are Your 2015 Sundance Film Festival Winners". Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  38. ^ "2015 Teen Choice Award Winners – Full List". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. August 16, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Whiplash
Sundance Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Dramatic
2015
Succeeded by
The Birth of a Nation