Me Before You
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
While flying on a plane, one finds themselves with a need for distraction. Usually, I read, but sometimes I splurge for a movie. This time around, it was a romantic film I had seen promos for over the summer and never had a chance to check out – Me Before You.
Based on a novel by Jojo Moyes, Me Before You stars Emilia Clarke as Louisa, a young woman with an eclectic fashion sense who finds herself in need of a job after getting laid off from the café she had been working in for six years. Desperate for something, she agrees to take a job as a caretaker to a former banker named Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), despite her lack of experience in the field. Will doesn’t make things easy for Louisa. Having turned cynical after a freak accident left him a paraplegic, Will is cold and pushes people away, including his caretakers, but Louisa and her family really need the money this job provides, so she sticks with it.
Eventually, Will begins to accept Louisa’s quirkiness, even cherish it as the two become friends. Will encourages Louisa to expand her horizons while Louisa encourages Will to discover all of the wonderful things he can still enjoy in life. Unfortunately, Louisa discovers time is growing short as Will has arranged for an assisted suicide to take place in Switzerland in six months. Louisa makes it her mission in life to take Will on a series of adventures to show him how wonderful life can still. She wasn’t counting on how attached she would become to her patient, now friend…but wouldn’t if all be worth it if Louisa could get Will to change his mind?
Now, let me first just say that the charisma between Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin is palpable. You totally believe that these two care about each other and – yes, I will say it because I’ve already told you it is a romantic film – their love for each other is real. The storyline is slightly played, but I could deal with that. The real fun of the film was watching Will adjust to Louisa and her sense of style that so clashes with her initially timid approach to his caretaking needs. Once the two get to know each other better, it is actually fun to watch them become closer. You root for these two to get together. I also found myself rooting for Emilia to dump her self-absorbed athletic boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis).
And then you see the end of the film and it pisses you off because it didn’t end the way you expected it to. I sat there, staring at the screen and thinking, “Shit! After all that?” Then, I smiled as I listened to Will’s dialogue and realized that the film had to end this way. Nope, not giving that one away – you’ll have to see the movie to find out what I’m talking about. Suffice it to say that Me Before You does not have the predictable ending one might expect from a romantic film.
When the movie aired, there was some protest regarding the film’s portrayal of a paraplegic as a burden on the family. I didn’t really see that. Will’s condition required some changes in his family’s life, for certain, but it was his decision regarding his future that placed the real burden on his loved ones. The only burden I saw was the one that Will falsely believed he was placing on others and the emotional one he placed on his loved ones thanks to his decision regarding assisted suicide.
All-in-all, I found Me Before You to be an entertaining watch, despite the anger at the unexpected conclusion of the film. The actors were believable in their roles, the story played out well and there were even some laugh out loud (much to the chagrin of my co-passengers) moments in the movie as well as tear-inducing ones. This makes Me Before You well-worth the price of an airline film watched to pass the time away.