Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

It’s been about a month since I’ve watched this movie so bare with me.

me_26_earl_26_the_dying_girl_film_poster

I read the novel Me and Earl and the Dying Girl a couple of years ago, sometime after I had read The Fault in Our Stars. I was very interested in “sick fiction,” and I had also read another cancer YA novel whose name escapes me. As expected, these novels are tragic and beautiful, which is what any novel should strive to be if you ask me. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was different, though. I wasn’t reduced to a sobbing puddle when I read its final word, nor did my heart pain in my chest. No, when I finished reading, I simply felt…. empty.

This emptiness often occurs after I finish an astounding book that defies all of my expectations. These books are never what I anticipate, so I usually have no idea how to emotionally respond. It can take me days to weeks to months to form opinions on them, as they keep floating back into my consciousness. They never leave me. They haunt me, they move me, they change everything for me. And these novels are always my favourites.

I think it took years for me to feel this way about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Actually, I know this. It took me until a month ago, when I finally gained the courage to watch the film adaptation.

The movie really solidified these confusing feelings I had towards the novel by telling the story in a beautiful and unique way. I have never seen a movie quite like it. The first person narration (including naming the “sections,” or chapters in the book (or in a movie)! Amazing!) is extremely effective, as it feels like this intimate story is being told directly to you. The viewer doesn’t lose the intimacy the novel provides, as the viewer is still able to access  Greg’s thoughts and emotions. Now, as a book purist, I would still recommend the novel in order to truly sink into Greg’s character, but the movie does an extremely satisfying job.

I’m going to take this moment to state that the acting in the movie is phenomenal. The actors not only look like teenagers, but they also act like teenagers. For the first time in ages, I felt like my teenage self (and self today, who am I kidding?) was accurately represented on screen. The sarcasm, the repressed emotions, the explosion of emotions, the crude jokes… this is how teenagers are, and the script as well as the actors and the director deserve kudos for portraying real people.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a novel that does demand viewing, as who doesn’t want to see these homemade films come to life? The movie does an excellent job presenting them, making them progressively more and more sophisticated, but still unpolished enough to know their purpose and intent. One of my personal favourite parts is the music, because it really does change the mood and the perception of the scene. I’m thinking particularly of the last few scenes here, which did something the book never did– they make me cry. As I watched and as I listened, I was moved in a way that the book could not move me. I was reduced to a sobbing mess, my heart hurting for people I would never meet, yet I somehow know. My conclusion is that visuality is essential to this story; a story about film, and the ability of storytelling to change lives, whether it be oral, visual, or a bit of both.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a story that will stay with you for a long, long time. It is unique, and it is not cliche despite how it may initially appear. It is a story about life. It’s not a romanticization, or idealization. This story hurts, because this story feels true. It’s not a story about cancer, but a story that displays cancer, and growing up, and the unfairness of it all.

But most of all, it’s a story that teaches us to look beyond and see; things are never what they appear to be.

Room: A Review

room-2015

Recently, I finally got around to watching the movie Room. I have no idea why I put it off for so long: I read the book in high school and I can safely say that it changed my life. When I saw that they had made a film, I was thrilled because I wanted this story to be shared with the world, and I knew film was the best media to do the job. Yet I waited… and I waited… and I waited to watch it. After seeing it, I think I know why.

Room is emotionally exhausting.

I cannot remember the last time I had such an affective response to a movie (actually, I can, and it was Mr. Holland’s Opus). I knew what happened in the story, as even though it has been years since I read the novel, it is one of those works of fiction that sticks with you. And yet, I still found my heart pounding out of my chest during Jack’s escape. I could not believe how terrified I was, and even as I tried to reassure myself that I knew everything worked out, I couldn’t stop the adrenaline rush through my veins.

It was that kind of movie.

And the emotions didn’t stop. I cried during this movie more than I’m willing to admit, and most of the time I couldn’t explain why I was crying. I cried because I had felt something so deeply, whether that be happiness, fear, relief, or sadness. The end of the movie left me a mess, crying for fictional people who felt all too real. The actors, Brie and Jacob, stole the show, and I would have been furious if Brie had not won the Oscar. They made this a story of so much more than a tragic abduction and (re)introduction to life beyond Room. This was a story about life, about love, and about how everything can change in an instant. The script was fantastic too, never feeling insincere or inauthentic. You are draw into the world of Ma and Jack, and what a bizarre world it is.  One of the most amazing things is how this film makes you appreciate life, and see the world through eyes that never have before. Life is scary, but it’s also pretty amazing, if one just takes the time to see.

This film is a solid 9/10 for me, because it made me feel something I didn’t know I could, and it made me consider my own life, and my own world– my own “room” so to speak. The ONLY bad thing I have to say, is that this film is nothing compared to the book. When I consider the style of the novel, the film slides down to a measly 6/10. The novel is that fantastic. It’s written entirely from Jack’s point of view, which the movie does try to keep, but because it’s Jack who’s telling the story, we see Room and the world from an entirely different point of view. We see first hand how Jack doesn’t understand new people, new places, new situations. We see his confusion, and his fear, but above all, we see his love and child-like wonder. The film does really attempt to keep this (i.e., voice overs), and I think it’s fairly successful, but if you haven’t, please read the book. It will change your life even more.

All in all, Room is a story that has touched my heart and has made me reevaluate what I know. Isn’t that all you could ever want from a work of fiction?