As explained by our editor Tom Johnson in his critique of the film, seen on the occasion of the Washington, D. C. Film Festival, THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY, a form of obvious tribute to the cinema. This is achieved by the short films made by two college students Greg and Earl to pass the time. Pastiches of the great classics of cinema, transformed with the means of the board, pasteboard, that may remind him of the imaginary to the Michel Gondry. Apocalypse Now of Coppola becoming A Box O ‘ Lips, Wow, Eyes Wide Shut de Kubrick turned into Eyes Wide Butt , or even The 400 Blows from Truffaut reinvented in The 400 Bros. The director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon reuses the same elements from this film that he appropriates for his film. Decorations and accessories, to the excellent music composed by Brian Eno, which includes topics recognizable to earlier works – main theme from a fistful of dollars , composed by Ennio Morricone, or any of the themes composed by Bernard Hermann for cold Sweats.

However, behind all these nods to the film, as tributes, or just for fun, first of all there is with THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY, a beautiful film that can vary the genres. Taking the word the term comedy-drama, THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY alternates constantly between comedy and drama, combining perfectly the laughter and the tears. This thanks to the realization susceptible d’Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and the story itself of Jesse Andrews, the author of the novel Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, which is from the film, and screenwriter. His story is that Greg, a high school student rather banal who is looking to spend his high school years as discreetly as possible. His daily life is seen turned upside-down when his mother forces him to get back in touch with Rachel, an old friend of the mother suffering from leukemia. Away from the obvious and clichés, THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY deals with its characters with intelligent and honesty.

THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY is a touching story, handled with a certain form of ” realism “, far from the superficiality that characterize works of the same ilk. We could be heading towards a kind of Our star to the contrary (Josh Boone, 2014, also taken from a literary work), rather successful in its genre. The latter strongly supported the part dramatic but especially showed itself to be relatively predictable in the evolution of the relationships of its characters. Only here, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is much more malignant. He plays the same (maybe too much) with the spectator by making him notice the codes, the drama expected, before going in an opposite direction. While Rachel and Greg come to meet, the latter addresses the audience in voice-over : “You say that our eyes will cross and that we are going to have a shot of lightning one to the other. And well not. Because this is not a love story “. If this kind of transition allows the developer to show a certain formatting that accompanies today this type of film, where the evolution of the relationship between the protagonists is rather foregone, it is also a way for him to insist on the turn that he wants to give to his film. Between Greg and Rachel, it is a question of the birth of a friendship. A friendship strong, certainly, certainly, with a hand of love. Simple and complex at the same time, as one can live to that age. An age that he represents the best of ways. Far from the usual clichés. In high school, Greg is a student like the others. It is nothing special (in every sense of the term). Rather discreet in order to avoid the problems but sufficiently resourceful to agree relatively well with all students. The director, and Jesse Andrews , of course, capture very well the period of high school. Better, they understand the psychology of their character, up to image the different feelings of a teenager face of certain events. Like when a boy lambda is faced with the most beautiful girl of the school. One of these girls that you will break the heart without even realizing it, simply by you talking, you smiling or touching you on the shoulder. The metaphor, in image, a buffalo crushing a squirrel, every time that Madison (the famous most beautiful girl in the school) will be talking to Greg, is particularly well found, and will act as the comic of repetition of which one never tires.

“THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY alternates constantly between comedy and drama, combining perfectly the laughter and the tears.”

If the film is primarily carried by sarcastic sense of humour of its main character, or tenderness in the relationships between each characters – Greg and Rachel, but also with Earl, the parents of Greg, or even with Mr. McCarthy, a teacher at the high school -there emerges a real work of mise en scene. In particular, in the room of Rachel, where a large part of the film will take place. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon made up the majority of his film with games of diving and counter-diving. A way to include consistently the viewer into the everyday life and the private of the two teenagers. As if I had just been spying on a moment of their lives, discreetly, for fear of ruining moments. And he thought about it constantly its framework and the composition of its plans. We understand a little better the presence of the director of photography Chung-hoon Chung (Old Boy, Lady Vengeance, Thirst, this is my blood, Stoker), always as accurate, and clever here to illuminate the room of the teenage Rachel, whose forces are dwindling as.

The director, although often a virtuoso in his movements and placements of the camera, also knows how to leave the place to his characters and his actors at appropriate times. We could talk about the final sequence, so wonderfully heartbreaking (which it will only reveal nothing). But the scene the most significant will remain, perhaps, this sequence still in the room of Rachel, where the two friends will have their biggest argument about the future of the young girl. Camera placed in a corner positioned in a counter-dive very special, capturing in the foreground, Rachel, sitting, and frozen, and in the background Greg, evolving in the rest of the space. During this sequence the filmmaker leaves a complete freedom to its actors who come to us to captivate and move us only by the power of their game, capable of delivering as much as to elicit tears in a moment.

In THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY the two actors unfold literally in front of the viewer, they become bare for us. Thomas Mann, as funny as touching, is a good surprise since its passage in Project X, a film not memorable. Olivia Cooke, which we already knew the talent with the series Bates Motel (she was also a high school girl suffering from a respiratory disease, oxygen tube constantly with it), still exceeds more here. Shaved head, from a young solar girl to a character without life. She immerses us constantly in an emotion striking. The performers side, RJ Cyler, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Jon Bernthal, accompany them effectively and compose a nice distribution. By pulling the best of the history of Jesse Andrews, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon shows his ability to vary the genres, to move us when necessary, we grieve as much as we have fun. A beautiful film in every way.

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  • Thomas ★★★★
  • Georgeslechameau ☆☆☆☆ (100% AGAINST)

[…] THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY is first and foremost a tribute a little unusual at the cinema. And not only thanks to the shorts without the pretention of the two directors in the grass, laughing respectfully of the masterpieces of the Seventh Art. The abundance of details movie-goers is, in truth, quite surprising : a father, a sociologist fan of Werner Herzog, a boutique film artisan and his handwritten labels, a poster of the 400 blows from Truffaut hung above the bed to Greg, even the haunting and the legendary original soundtrack in a cold Sweat, the Bernard Herrmann discreetly placed on a stage. As for the film, for Rachel, it has the power of healing of the wounds. This same magic that director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has instilled in his true work, adapted by Jesse Andrews from his novel of the same name, in the form of testimony of their own high school years, their psychotherapy by the image. Here, the cinema is a remedy, powerful and beautiful.

“THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY, proves that comedy is an integral part of the art of filmmaking. “

But THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY is also a manifesto for ‘the comedy (even more serious). The environments that movie-goers pretentious and festivals tend to despise this kind, or at least to ignore it, preferring the pure drama, if at all, of course, is that comedy and drama are taken in their generality (every comedy is obviously different). Even the Oscars, yet a historical reference, never have been really generous in regards to the recognition of the roles so-called comedy, for example, including stunning. There has been a Helen Hunt in 1997 (For the best and the worst), or Kevin Kline in 1988 (A fish called Wanda), and why not Jean Dujardin and The Artist. I want for accuracy reveals that THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY, that I could see on the occasion of the Washington, D. C. Film Festival, had been classified by the organizers in the category of ” The Lighter Side “, in other words one of the films called “light” or feel-good movies. This is not totally justified, in my eyes, and the second part of the film contains much more inevitable moments more serious. THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY, proves that comedy is in any case an integral part of the art of filmmaking, that it may as well talk about serious things and discuss issues that affect them. […]


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While I have not enjoyed for two-three reasons.

Constantly, the film tries to make us believe that he is not what he is yet at 100%: a banal “feel good movie” that tries to take the emotion of the spectator to the great reinforcement of aggression melodramatic hardcores, to give him a paradoxical feeling of well being.

The more dishonest: when the narrator falls under the so-called “big strings” of the plot by making people believe that they are not – then they are. But here we are, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL is ” indie “, so it must introduce characters and a plot ” out of the ordinary “, it must necessarily show a certain artistic freedom, and a desire to elevate culturally the spectator. Yeah.

Which brings me to the second point, very annoying: his display of a so-called cultural baggage, which reflects the reality of the ignorance true of the authors as well as new, a certain lack of sincerity. Let me explain: quote openly Fellini, Bergman, Scorsese and other great directors would be evidence of culture, if we saw behind these “tributes” a true understanding/speech-to-text, the essence of these filmmakers… instead of a snapshot, absolutely recognizable, and not subtle, only intended to stimulate by its accessibility. This is not a film buff or respectful, It is opportunistic.

This only proves that one has done a course in film and/or that it has consulted with the top 250 IMDb works the best noted and retained only those which have more than 40 years.

For comparison, let’s go back two seconds to one of the inspirations the actual (but NEVER RECOGNIZED) ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL: Michel Gondry, and in particular Be Kind Rewind.

In spite of its many defects, it had the merit not to tell it by quoting as much robo-cop or Rush Hour, that Kubrick and De Palma. It was proposed to blow a true gesture cinephile ignoring the sound and showing a total respect for the authors, to their inspirations, through their parody. (see also our declaration of love for Michel Gondry / analysis of his best clips)

This is never the case in ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL. It is absolutely dishonest to say inspired by “the greatest” but to model, and I say well MATCH almost the entirety of the film and its effects on those of a producer much more contemporary (and therefore less respectable, eh ?) : WES ANDERSON.

Only positive point for me, the writing… Even if again, it feels too thinking purely mathematical behind its design: to seek the cynicism, the counterpoint, the humor, the lag behind every dialogue and situation. Let’s assume that it gives rhythm to the film and proves to be pleasant.

While it would have been able to stay in the order detail, if the authors had not constructed their film around these traits to be accurate… which leads to the awfully embarrassing conclusion of the film, or these features stand out overly. You will appreciate particularly, the irony of this :[spoiler mode=”inline”]Do die their female character to the vision of the film dedicated to him[/SPOILer] Because this short film, like the film, illustrates that the lack of personality of its author, where he promised to express in a goal specific and ambitious: to make believe to the viewer in a re-appropriation intelligent of the cultural consciousness collective, as a vector of emotion.

Missed at all levels.

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