Click here to read my autism lesson on this movie.
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. Emilia puts on the sweetest, most adorable facial expressions—watching her wide smile and nervous eyebrows will leave you tumbling in laughter. Sam 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!
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, 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/>.