Me Before You (2016) by Thea Sharrock
Review by Jessica Carr
“You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t shed any tears during Me Before You. To me, that was the whole point of seeing it. I’d prepared myself for a heartbreaking melodrama with a decent plot and attractive leading actors. But, I didn’t expect the film to actually inspire me to do something with my life. Me Before You transcends most of the recent romance films in that it allows the human element to shine through rather than just focusing on two attractive people supposedly falling in love.
Adapted from Jojo Moyes book of the same name, Me Before You stars Emilia Clarke as Louisa “Lou” Clark, an "adorkable" young woman who loves wearing the quirkiest outfits (i.e see expansive collection of colorful heels). Clarke uses her very expressive eyebrows to show that Louisa very much shares her emotions with the world. Due to financial need, Louisa takes a job as the caregiver of former playboy, now quadriplegic Will Traynor (Sam Claflin). At first, Will is what you would expect him to be. He is angry at the world for his circumstances and spends his time moping around. But, as fate would have it Louisa and Will start spending more time together and eventually they—dare I say it—fall in LOVE. There is some subplot with Louisa and her boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis), but I don’t think it really matters and neither will you considering they break-up without much thought after Will arrives in the picture.
So far, Me Before You probably sounds like a standard Nicolas Sparks book/film plus an English setting and some British actors. But, director Thea Sharrock makes sure that the camera captures the honesty that both characters have to offer. The close-up shot of Louisa and Will’s faces during the wedding “dance” while the rest of the background is spinning and blurred is absolutely beautiful. She does a good job of making the audience feel like Louisa and Will are the only two people in the world—and to them they absolutely are. The romance between Louisa and Will is direct, but very realistic. In the same scene, Louisa says to Will that if he weren’t paralyzed and in the chair that he probably wouldn’t even be with her. He would probably go for the “leggy blondes” and she would be invisible. Will tries to deny it, but ultimately admits yes she was right, but he was an ass then after all. Their romance is merely a product of circumstance and they both seem to acknowledge that.
I’m not saying that the movie is perfect. There definitely are some issues. Louisa borderlines on a manic pixie dream girl at times. Her saving grace is that she finally breaks down at the end and allows her cheery exterior to fade once she realizes the reality of her situation with Will.
It’s a heartbreaking moment for the audience, but it’s refreshing to see such honesty from a romance film. Not everything can be solved with love and this film isn’t afraid to reveal that truth. I actually rooted for Louisa whereas in films like The Notebook or A Walk to Remember, I don’t think I actually identified with any of the female leads. In fact, I didn’t really get a sense of who that character was without her male counterpart. Louisa is her own person and with Will’s help she is able to live her life to the fullest.
All in all, I don’t really know if I’ll ever meet the guy that I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with. But, the truth is I don’t think it really matters. This film showed me that I should live my life without reservations. I should travel to Paris and eat a buttery croissant on a warm spring day. It doesn’t matter if I ever meet my Will. If love is on the horizons then, so be it. But for now, I’m just going to live my life as fully as possible.