I’ll tell you something good: I really enjoyed this movie. Now I’ll tell you something not so good: I probably should not have. Me Before You is all about encouraging young adults to #LiveBoldly and share with the world what they value in life. Done in the fashion of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, this romantic book-to-film adaptation becomes this summer’s great tearjerker.
It all starts with our male lead, 31-year-old William Traynor, played by Sam Claflin, who is living the great life of water skiing and high-diving. But then disaster strikes at the blink of an eye: he comes face to headlights with a motorcycle, and he becomes struck with a lifelong condition called Quadriplegia.
Quadriplegia is a condition that permanently paralyzes the spine, arms, and legs, causing all sorts of symptoms such as loss of bladder and bowel control, pressure sores, blood clots, respiratory problems, autonomic dysreflexia, and muscle spasms. It is a very limiting condition that bounds you to a wheelchair and forces you to rely on others for aid in all the little things.
Here is when his new caretaker enters the picture. Will seems to be living fine in a wooden apartment with an assistant for his wheelchair, but he needs someone else to help with minor tasks such as eating and getting medications. Her name is Louisa Clark, played by Emilia Clarke. Louisa is 26 and desperate for work. This job requires no experience, so she is quick to accept the position.
Here is the film’s greatest strength: the way the relationship between these two is developed. Both players are beyond exceptional in their roles. Emilia puts on the sweetest, most adorable facial expressions—watching her wide smile and nervous eyebrows will leave you tumbling in laughter. Sam isn’t as strong as his co-lead, but he beautifully contrasts from her lively, exotic personality with his slow, Debbie downer attitude which gradually opens up more as he becomes more comfortable with his caretaker. Even when he’s just staring at the castle outside his window like a senior citizen, he makes it so easy for you to connect with him.
Everything else that happens to these two is just pure sweetness: he talks her into watching a foreign film with him, she helps him to shave off his facial hair, she tells him about these ridiculous bumblebee tights she always wanted, she struggles to get his wheelchair out of mud, she attempts to get him into a high-class dining restaurant that he doesn’t even like, and best of all, they get their moment to dance at a wedding. It’s purely believable to see their relationship grow from distant to intimate over six months.
That being said, the story needed major alterations. The book’s original author Jojo Moyes adapted Me Before You to the screen, and it’s clear she doesn’t know how the process of an adaptation to screen goes. Her intentions for the emotional aspects of the script are in their proper place, but many of the important moments, particularly in the beginning, are skimmed over and barely given any detail, and it shows more in the rather clumsy third act. In addition, the picture’s editor, John Wilson, simply did not let various scenes last long enough to get the full emotional effect.
But that’s not the worst part. No, the worst part of this film, and the book in that matter, is the message. Without spoiling anything for those of you who haven’t read the book, the overall theme justifies suicide as a path to freedom from lifelong suffering. Suicide is often talked about as if it were a decision to live an alternate lifestyle, saying that if someone chooses to kill himself, you just have to let him do it. But how much truth is there to this?
Now, Jojo Moyes is right about one thing: you can’t change people or the decisions they make. If they choose something beyond the extreme, you’re not responsible. But contrary to what Moyes is trying to say in her work, life is always worth living in the very end, even if certain things may momentarily make you feel otherwise. Thus I probably wouldn’t recommend the book or the movie for this very reason. But you can go ahead and read and see each of these highly enjoyable works if my praise entices you. Just be aware that no matter what crap you may go through, life is always worth it!
Coming from my own experiences, my autism has been an enormous stumbling block, just like Will with Quadriplegia. But what I learned over time, is that what I thought was holding me back was actually setting me up for something better, such as my book on growing up autistic that currently has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon. But it doesn’t end there. Do you think Stephen Hawking would have inspired others had he decided to end his life after losing his muscular capabilities? Do you think that Roger Ebert would still be remembered as a well-respected movie critic if he killed himself after losing his jaw? What about Abraham Lincoln? Would our nation still be a slave-free country if he chose to end it after meeting a failure on the job? The devastating thing is, this movie proves that people don’t quite understand the value of a disability.
Maybe Me Before You isn’t promoting the best solution on how to deal with physical and mental impairments, but there is one thing that it gets right: the portrayal of what it does to a person.
This movie acutely depicts how Quadriplegia hinders Will enough to force dependency from another. The result is that he’s depressed all the time, and nothing seems to stop his negative thinking patterns. Situations like this are unfortunately all too common.
Unlike somebody with Quadriplegia though, I was born with my autism, and it will never go away. So the only real solution that can help me deal with what holds me back from doing everyday things is the support from others.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #97: Phone a Therapist- They Can Help!
That’s what I did: I went to therapy sessions in high school and college to help me with my negative thinking and relative loneliness. The result is that I received some coping strategies, along with a tool that helped me to better understand my personality type. Emotional support by a professional is absolutely vital for anyone, disabled or not, to overcome any form of depression.
Another thing that has helped me enormously has been medications. It may make you feel sick from the first few weeks of taking it, but as you get used to the new routine, you’ll find that your thinking patterns will change, and you’ll feel overall more satisfied with your situations.
But really, the best thing that can help anyone is the immediate support of family.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Lesson #100: Never Stop Saying I Love You.
They are the ones who are always going to be a safety net for you no matter how old you get, and they know you right from birth how you will react to things. Do not ever think less of your family no matter what types of problems may come up. They are there in your life for that very reason.
But of course, like in Me Before You, at the very end of the day, the decision on what to do with the emotional support is dependent on you. Any psychiatrist can tell you to take a certain set of daily prescriptions, but you always could simply choose not to take them. Your parents could each say how they are always there to listen when you need it, but you could still decide not to tell them anything that happens to you. All the help in the world could come your way, but no change is going to take place unless you make the decision to let the change take place.
With that said, here are some easy ways that can help you with feelings of depression, anxiety, or hopelessness:
- Get help if you are feeling depressed, especially to the brink of suicide. There are always psychiatrists who are especially trained to help people in your condition, do don’t ever feel like you’re weak for going to them for help.
- If you are the parent of somebody with autism who feels down on his luck because of his disorder, don’t ever stop telling him that you love him. The more he hears this, the higher is confidence and self-esteem will rise.
- Follow through with the help that you are receiving from others. You do have that free will to do what you want, but the change you foresee yourself living will only happen if you let it happen. It may be difficult to go through a new change at first, but as time passes, its award will benefit your mental health.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
ABC News. Author Jojo Moyes on Bringing 'Me Before You' to the Big Screen. Video. Disqus. Web. <http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/author-jojo-moyes-bringing-big-screen-39509994>.
Me Before You. MGM. Web. <http://mebeforeyoumovie.com/#/>.
Pressler, Abra. Bookin’ Film: a look at Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. Digital image. PopCulture-y. 25 Apr, 2016. Web. <http://popculture-y.com/2016/04/bookin-film-jojo-moyes/>.
Quadriplegia. BrainandSpinalCord.org. Web. <http://www.brainandspinalcord.org/quadriplegia/>.