Every now and then you need to put the sci-fi away, turn off the comedies and hide the horror to let your heart get ripped out by some otherworldly attractive couple on the big screen. I mean, what’s better than that first sob after you’ve been holding back for the past hour of movie watching? Well if you’re looking for your next sappy yet gut wrenching flick, Me Before You has got you covered.
Now this movie has a twist that I didn’t pick up on until I watched the movie. Because of this, you should definitely watch it before reading this to save you the spoilers.
Me Before You follows Lou (Emilia Clarke) through her new job as a caretaker/professional best friend. She keeps Will (Sam Claflin) company, gives him medication, and eventually they fall in love. Shocking, I know. The real twist comes in finding out that Will has decided to end his life to escape his misery in his new crippled form. Lou tries to change his mind and we see both of them struggle with the harsh reality of the situation.
This isn’t your basic mind candy movie. From the trailer, I thought this would be an interesting romance to keep me busy for a night. I had no idea I was watching a movie with such heavy themes and topics. From unfulfilling love lives to disability to euthanasia and how each affects personal relationships, this is a movie that you’ll be thinking about for hours.
The same titled book by Jojo Moyes is what inspired the movie. Moyes’s story gave light to that painful reality that sometimes love requires you to let go. Any story with this theme is naturally painful to watch, this one is no exception.
By adding in that controversial topic of assisted suicide, this becomes a political commentary that can show that as scary as the concept is, sometimes suicide is a logical decision made by someone in severe pain. This doesn’t cover up the horror that follows or the effect it has on loved ones. There’s an argument that could be made for each side of the debate on this topic, but for the sake of the story, love wins. Maybe it doesn’t win in the way we expect or want it to, but if love is there, love wins. I know, sappy yet heartbreaking.
Yes, you can argue that the romance is very Beauty and the Beast-esque. They spend so much time together they fall in love by default. While it’s cheesy, it sure is cute. He loves her innocence and positivity. She loves his wit and sees that playful sense he had before his accident. It’s simple yet adorable.
The actors deserve their credit in making two characters with seemingly nothing in common convincingly fall in love. Emilia Clarke’s Lou was bubbly, bold, and most importantly, genuine. Clarke took that lovable, quirky girl-next-door character and actually made her believable. She didn’t rely on the weird clothes or the fact that she reads to make her seem interesting. She took Lou and brought her to life.
Sam Claflin, as we’ve seen on the screen before, plays a good rich boy with attitude problems but heart of gold. However, he added a new side to this role he seems to excel at by showing genuine distress and sadness. Will has experienced a tragedy that changed his life, took everything away that he enjoys, and causes him severe pain and illness regularly. He has no privacy, no outlet, and has had no positive interaction until Lou. We realize his desire to be alone and stare out the window is actually his coping mechanism for his depression. His embarrassment of being singled out in public was just as confining as his chair. His happiest moments with Lou were still riddled with misery by his own reality. Claflin had to show all of this using only his face and voice. I’d say he’s proven he’s more than a one role wonder.
There were some amazing supporting actors in this movie as well. Charles Dance (Stephen Traynor) and Janet McTeer (Camilla Traynor) deserve some praise as having some of the hardest roles this Will’s life. They didn’t have many scenes compared to Clarke and Claflin but still had to show their struggle with Will’s decision which is a major theme in the movie. They held their own and our heart broke with theirs as they realized Lou’s efforts failed.
I also need to mention Matthew Lewis. Lewis had a cringingly clueless character that was both infuriating and funny. As happy as I was to laugh at him in scenes as the worst boyfriend in the world, I was just as happy for him to leave since he played that ridiculously selfish character so well. Lewis isn’t just Longbottom anymore.
I enjoyed this movie much more than I expected to. While it’s not my new favorite, this is one I do recommend to friends who get the itch to watch a romance. I wasn’t blown away with the details or the bond between the characters. I think this movie’s strengths really lie in the individual acting and in the themes presented in the story.
Let me know what you thought of Me Before You. I’d love to hear your opinion, especially since it got some mixed reviews. It definitely left me feeling bittersweet for quite some time. When I emotionally recover, I might read the book. If any of you have read it, I’d also love to know if you think it’s worth picking up.