It was only a matter of time, but it’s finally here. During our Sundance coverage earlier this year, we had reported about Tejano director Alfonso Gomez-Rejón’s $12-million distribution deal for his indie darling Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which made history as the biggest figure ever put on the table in the festival’s 30-plus year history. Then, of course, came the prizes: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl picked up the coveted Sundance Grand Jury Prize along with the festival’s U.S. Dramatic Competition Audience Award to round things out. And so the buzz grew, and grew, and grew. What in the world made this low-budget teen dramedy so special? And when the hell could we see it?
Well rest at ease, mi gente, because the latter question has finally been answered: we can look forward to a wide release for the film on June 12 of this year. As for the former, Fox Searchlight has released an extended trailer to give us an idea of what it is that sets this film apart until we can make a more informed decision at the multiplex. And frankly, it couldn’t be clearer.
Obviously, much ado has been made of the film’s tear-jerker plotline — based on the eponymous novel penned by screenwriter Jesse Andrews — in which a socially awkward teenager begrudgingly befriends a cancer-stricken classmate at the behest of his mother. Early reviews suggested that Gómez-Rejón’s handling of the inherently heart-rending material avoided exploitative sentimentality in favor of a comedic touch, putting its focus squarely on the characters and making the film’s inevitable denouement all the more affecting.
Now, with The Dying Girl’s official trailer we can appreciate the cinematic qualities of Gómez-Rejón’s second feature, which oozes with style and confidence. Echoes of Wes Anderson’s trademark sweeping visuals and deadpan humor are writ large throughout the trailer’s two minutes and thirty-nine seconds, while Gómez-Rejón’s particular sense of framing — just a bit off-center and full of dazzling diagonal lines — gives it all a personal touch. Performances by lead actors Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, and Ronald Cyler II show a sophisticated sense of comedy that doesn’t beg for laughs, while moving through the frame with that characteristic awkward adolescent body-language that most of us have had the pleasure of growing out of.
Take a moment to give this one a look. My bet is that your culo will be running to your local theater come mid-June.