A charming rom-com which brings tears to the eyes, and at points raises interesting ethical discussion.
Me Before You is yet another in a long line of romantic comedies in the last few years, and from the very beginning, it has been marketed as one that is going to have you tearing up by the end. Inevitably, it succeeded in that area, and I was something of a sobbing mess by the time the credits rolled.
The film, adapted from the bestselling romantic novel by Jojo Moyes, who wrote the screenplay for Me Before You alongside the screenwriters of The Fault in our Stars, tells the story of Lou Clark, played by the world’s favourite dragon lady (can you tell I don’t watch GoT??), Emilia Clarke. Lou is a pretty ordinary village girl in her mid-20s, with a bizarre wardrobe, bright smile and a frustratingly uncharming boyfriend played by the brilliant Matthew Lewis (Oh Neville Longbottom, puberty did you good), but when she is hired to be a caregiver for a recently paralysed man, her life changes substantially.
Will Traynor, the man in question, (played by Sam Claflin) was everything that spoilt wealthy businessmen are expected to be- he loved extreme sports, having sex with beautiful women, watching foreign films, and feeling superior in his job. That is until he was hit by a motorcycle and became paralysed from the neck down. This makes him very cynical about the world, and his days consist of being moved around, cleaned by his nurse Nathan, and just staring out the window blankly – in the belief that there isn’t much more worth doing, now that he’s lost the person he was before.
Of course, you can probably guess where this story heads. Admittedly, the first half of the film did feel pretty typical, and a lot of it was reminiscent of the 2011 French film, The Intouchables – apart from the fact that it was inevitably going to become a romantic thing rather than just focusing on the friendship. The thing that did hold up this film from the very beginning was the acting. Emilia Clarke as Lou is, well, there is no other way to describe her than ‘damn cute’. Her character is pretty adorable, and bubbly and chatty, and dresses in the most bizarre outfits, that just make her seem quirky and lovable. Sam Claflin’s Will is the polar opposite. He is cold, and bitter, but also has a dark sense of humour and sarcasm that you can’t help but laugh along with.
However, about half way into the film, it is revealed that the reason Mrs Traynor has hired Lou to take care of her son, is because he is planning to go to Switzerland to kill himself in six months. This plot has caused a lot of uproar amongst disabled people, as it suggests that being disabled means that you have no reason to live. Due to the lack of representation of disabled people in the mainstream media, it’s completely understandable why people might be upset with this implication, but it’s important to remember that this is a fictional story, about only one character. And perhaps most importantly, this plotline actually provides a really interesting opportunity for a discussion about euthanasia. It’s one of those ethical topics that I’ve never fully worked out where my opinion on it lies, so for me, it was an opportunity to explore some reasons for and against it.
It also just marked the point in the film where things seemed to pick up in pace; as Lou takes it upon herself to make the last six months of Will’s life amazing, and try to change his mind. I think what makes this so great is the fact that Lou is acting purely out of love. At first, just ‘love’ as in compassion and kindness, but soon enough it becomes romance. The transition at times feels a bit forced, but for the most part, the two have great chemistry and in the humorous scenes, they bounce off each other really well. They both bring their A-game in the emotional arcs too.
The film has gallons of charm, and is very sweet, pitching just the right amount of emotion, whilst also initiating an interesting ethical discussion. However, despite it’s controversy, I guess overall it’s just another emotional romantic comedy; For a girly day when you’re in the mood to cry, it’s a good watch. For anything else, it’s pretty average.
Me Before You, directed by Thea Sharrock, is distributed in the UK by Warner Bros. Pictures. Certificate 12A.