Me Before You
Starring Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Matthew Lewis, Stephen Peacocke
The problem with Thea Sharrock’s directorial debut, isn’t the simplicity or by the numbers storytelling. It’s that the entire movie is easily summed up in the two-minute trailer. Me Before You might as well be a sequel to both the American teenage love story The Fault in Our Stars or the international French hit The Intouchables. Me Before You takes elements from both films and reduces them to clichés and stereotypes, preying on weepy ticket buyers. Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, like many of her co-stars, hasn’t found much success outside the award winning epic show. Claflin however might as well be crowned the younger Hugh Grant, as he continues accepting the same charming, posh, yet entitled love interest roles.
Lou Clark (Clarke) lives a small town life in Pembrokeshire, Wales. She has given up on furthering her education due to hard times at home with the family who depend on her paycheck as a waitress. However, just down the hill from the town’s iconic castle lives Will Traynor (Claflin), once the thrill seeking, sports enthusiast, male icon until an unfortunate accident left him a suffering quadriplegic. Will’s mother has just hired the recently fired Lou as the new caretaker. “What am I here for,” she asks after accepting the job. “To cheer him up I guess,” the doctor replies. They couldn’t be more different, yet slowly they warm to each other. When Lou discovers Will’s plan to self-terminate after six months, she begins planning anything and everything that will change his mind.
This script is more interested in Lou’s wardrobe, leaving her boyfriend and the pop music montage, than embracing the obvious plot line that would have made it unique.
Me Before You has some clever moments between the two young characters, it even has a charming scene or two. However, the script (also by the author), feels as if it’s written backwards. Starting with a guy who wants to kill himself after an accident, Jojo Moyes builds in everything else from familiar love stories, movies and scenarios. It doesn’t help matters that director Sharrock jumps from television to a larger summer film. Me Before You paints by the numbers as far as love stories are concerned, checking off the list of ingredients that seem to ruin all the mainstream varieties (i.e., wealthy good looking man, bubbly impressionable girl, trips to Paris). Clarke’s character is quite juvenile after seeing her play something so strong and fearless in Game of Thrones. This role at least afford the actress range that her Terminator Genisys character did not. Eventually she does charm the audience around the same she makes Will smile.
Where The Fault in Our Stars and The Intouchables spent more time developing characters and exploring the debilitation, here that is glossed over so we can get to the romance element. You know from the trailer that the male character is going to pass away (let’s face it, people buy tickets to this because they want to see a sad movie and cry, not because it’s going to be a great film and earn their unexpected tears). What nearly saves the film from its own devices is the stubborn manner in which our leading man will choose his death. For a brief moment the film explores the controversial manner of assisted suicide, a topic predominately absent from mainstream film. Unfortunately, this script is more interested in Lou’s wardrobe, leaving her boyfriend (played by a transformed Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter), and the pop music montage, than embracing the one thing it has that could have made it original.
Prey’s on those gullible to a stereotypical weepy romance, despite knowing the entire plot from the trailer.