*This review contains some spoilers. Read at your own risk.
I’m feeling all the feels right now, which I often find is the best state to be in when writing a review. Everything is fresh in my mind and heart, and I am both utterly in love with and conflicted by what I just saw.
Me Before You is based on the novel by Jojo Moyes and sees a young woman, Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) taking up a new job as caregiver for Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), a man who became paralyzed from the neck down after being hit by a motorcycle. While the plot is presented as a love story, it’s much more complicated than that, with Will having given his parents (Janet McTeer and Charles Dance) six months before they must take him to Switzerland for euthanasia.
Clark is a real standout here, and an absolute joy to watch as the odd, colourful and perpetually happy Louisa. It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with her, and she does a great job at making her chemistry and gradual pull towards Will feel believable. This character is certainly a big shift in tone from Clark’s most famous role in GOT, but I couldn’t think of anyone better for the job. Sam Claflin is equally as impressive here. Every emotional high and low is never overplayed, and his subtle performance will certainly draw you in hook, line and sinker.
The film’s supporting cast, while underused, are a memorable bunch. Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis is hilarious as Louisa’s dim witted boyfriend Patrick, and it’s a real shame we don’t see him on the big screen more. Likewise goes for Will’s nurse Nathan, played by Australian hunk Stephen Peacocke, who does his best with this small but important role. I’m calling it: he’s going to be huge in a year, and perhaps Oz’s best male export since the Hemsworth brothers.
The plot itself unfolds at an excellent pace, and soon you’ll be emotionally invested enough to never want to look away. There’s plenty of humour and yes, romantic touches, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when Will’s plans come to light. Those who came to cry will certainly do so.
However, there is a disconnect from what we’re told Will is feeling and what we actually see, and the film could have benefitted from showing us more of Will’s struggle. Yes there’s always an undercurrent of pain in his eyes, but once Louisa enters the picture there aren’t many moments that follow to make the ending understandable (whether we agree with him or not).
Assisted suicide isn’t an easy topic to discuss or even make a movie about, and no doubt every teary eyed viewer in my cinema had a strong opinion on either end of the scale, or fell somewhere in between. Either way, there’s no denying this film will make you feel something powerful, whether it be joy at the gift that is life, or anger at the male protagonist’s determination to die. Me Before You is a very easy watch until it isn’t. But it’s sweet, it’s confronting, and it will make you think.
Image source: Roadshow Films.