The Courier-Mail

Life, death and growing up

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Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (The Town That Dreaded Sundown)

Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, R.J. Cyler, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon

A real sparkle in demise

Owing purely to its pedigree as a best-selling young-adult novel, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is doomed to draw comparison­s with The Fault

In Our Stars.

In spite of their obvious similariti­es, let the record show these are two very different movies. And you know what? Most will agree Me and Earl is clearly the better of the two.

The ‘Me’ of the title is Greg (a star-making display from Thomas Mann), who also serves as our narrator. Most at high school have written him off as a misfit not worth bothering with.

Which is just what Greg and his best bud Earl (R.J. Cyler) want. This means they are free to shoot kooky remakes-witha-twist of the highbrow cinematic fare they’ve been watching all their lives.

While Greg and the ineffably droll Earl (whose collaborat­ions include ‘SeniorCiti­zen Kane’ and ‘Eyes Wide Butt’) are charismati­c enough to carry any movie as a duo, this movie takes everything­verything up another notch h with the seemingly saccharine­ccharine introducti­on of ‘the Dying Girl.’

Rachel (Olivia livia Cooke) has beeneen living with a cancer diagnosis for some time.e. But won’t be for veryery much longer.

So when Greg’s mother (described by her son as “the LeBron James of nagging”) forces him to visit Rachel — a classmate he barely knew when she was well — the awkwardnes­s in the room borders on nuclear.

However, then the pair gradually react to one another. As narrator, Greg declares that this will not be a romance, and the usual cliches in this kind of tale will be avoided.

Though he can be shifty with the truth throughout Me and Earl, Greg is not lying here. This unconventi­onal friendship between these two self-styled loners permits director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (a former protege of Martin Scorsese) and a fantastic cast (support players include Nick Offerman, aka Ron Swanson from TV’s Parks

and Recreation) to throw some unexpected­ly impressive shapes throughout.

There are times where Gomez-Rejon breaks ranks with his contempora­ries so completely with his framing of the tale that you’d swear you are watching a teen-friendly sequel to Birdman.

Best of all, Me and Earl and

the Dying Girl never comes down with a case of the creepy-weepies once it looks like you-know-what will happen to you-know-who.

This unique film is far too full of life to all of a sudden stray down a dead end of its own making.

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