Submitted by Evan B

1 votes 4

POOPER: (Thanks Brad)
Rachel (Olivia Cooke) dies from cancer and Greg (Thomas Mann) never found out if she forgave him after their massive fight the last time they spoke. However, Rachel left Greg a copy of a letter she sent to the college he was rejected from, making the case why he should be allowed to go there. This inspires Greg to write down the story of his friendship with Rachel in a letter to the university.

Greg (Thomas Mann) is an awkward and self-loathing high school student hoping to complete high school anonymously – making no friends or enemies. He primarily hangs out with Earl (RJ Cyler), who he’s been friends with since Elementary School (but Greg calls Earl his “colleague” due to his fear of building emotional attachments). Although Greg has low self esteem, he is funny and has a wild imagination. He and Earl share a deep love of art films and bizarre foods. They make zero-budget parodies/homages of the films they love (i.e., The 400 Bros (the 400 Blows), 2:48 PM Cowboy (Midnight Cowboy) and A Sockwork Orange (a sock puppet version of A Clockwork Orange)).

When a neighboring teen named Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is diagnosed with leukemia, Greg’s parents (Connie Britton and Nick Offerman) force him to visit her. Rachel finds Greg’s quirkiness and bluntness refreshing, while Greg enjoys Rachel’s wry wit and confidence. The pair soon decide to be friends and even hang out at school. Rachel’s single mother (Molly Shannon) encourages the friendship. When Greg introduces Rachel to Earl, Earl tells Rachel about their films and she begins watching them enthusiastically. Rachel also convinces Greg to apply for college and, to his surprise, he is accepted at a local university. By hanging out with Rachel, he begins interacting more with his classmates (eventually getting into fights and gaining enemies – which he tried to avoid in High School) and even becomes friendly with his crush Madison (Katherine Hughes). Throughout, Earl narrates and says that if this were a stereotypical film, he and Rachel would begin dating. But they don’t. He also promises the viewer that Rachel will not die.

Although Rachel initially pursues treatment enthusiastically (thanks in large part to Greg and Earl’s friendship), the treatments exhaust her and don’t improve her condition. Meanwhile, Greg becomes stressed when Madison promises Rachel that Greg and Earl will make a movie for her. Greg in particular becomes obsessed with making the film but is wholly unable to find the right tone or message. He becomes so anxious that he stops doing his school work, leading to his grades plummeting and his college acceptance being rescinded. One day, Rachel tells Earl that she is stopping treatment. Greg is furious and the pair argue. Rachel says he’s a bad friend for not respecting her wishes and demands he leaves her home. Greg then blames Earl for his problems as Earl is the one that introduced Rachel to their movies (leading to Greg’s unfulfilled promise to make one for her). The pair get into a fight and their friendship appears over.

Greg’s favorite teacher (played by Jon Bernthal) tries to help Greg out, noting that even if Rachel dies he may continue to learn more about her after her death (and in so doing, continue having a relationship with her). Greg dismisses this advice and continues to self-destruct. However, one day, another student fights Greg and Earl comes to his rescue (restoring their friendship). Madison also apologizes for pressuring Greg to make a film for Rachel and asks him to prom to make it up to him. Realizing that he’s better off having friends, he finishes the film for Rachel and visits her in the hospital on prom. Rachel is unable to walk or talk at this point. Greg puts on the film and Rachel weeps. As the film plays, Rachel’s body shuts down, but her last moments were happy. Greg narrates that he knows he promised the viewer Rachel wouldn’t die, and though that wasn’t true, he hoped it would be.

At Rachel’s funeral, Rachel’s mother gives Greg a letter and a book she left for him. He sneaks into her room to read it. In the letter, Rachel thanks Greg for his friendship and says that he needs to embrace himself. She explains that she wrote a letter to the university he applied to in order to explain why his grades plummeted. Her letter encourages him to also write to the college to ask them to reconsider. Earl then opens the book to find that she carved artwork on the inside depicting a time she hung out with Greg and Earl. He opens other books in her room and finds additional artwork. And as Greg looks about her room, he also notices for the first time things that were always there that related to her past but he didn’t realize until she died (proving his teacher’s point). Greg goes home and writes to the college (which we discover is the narration we’ve heard throughout the film), telling the story of his time with Rachel.