Me Before You: Predictably Tugging on Heart Strings
Review by Jen Rush – 2.5/5 buckets of popcorn
It’s hard to say if it was meant as a joke, but everyone in my screening of Me Before You was given a box of tissues at the end of the film. Unless you happen to be an unfeeling robot, you will likely experience at least a hint of mist in your eyes.
Suffice it to say that the movie is supposed to make you cry. It works really hard at accomplishing this goal, but misses the mark in a few important areas.
The audience is never fully given a chance to get to know any of the characters aside from superficial means. She is folksy, permanently happy and always wanting to see the best in the world. He is sarcastic and jaded, given that his former life was taken away from him in a motorcycle accident, leaving him a quadriplegic. A match made in romantic movie heaven, Lou Clarke (Emilia Clark) is hired as a caregiver for the dreamy but brooding, Will Traynor (Sam Caflin). Once she decides that she is going to fix him, we cut to a series of montages showing them getting to know each other, without the audience coming along for the ride. Thankfully, we get to enjoy some of their quip and humor in the midst of all their misadventures together. I’ll be the first to say that the jokes were well placed and cleverly formed.
In keeping with the Jojo Moyers novel, the film takes a dark turn in the second half, attempting to address the cumbersome issue of assisted suicide; a topic far too complicated for a movie such as this. I struggled in empathizing with the characters, not because of a lack of talent (Clark is able to work wonders using only her eyebrows), but because of the choices made by director Thea Sharrock to tell us about any suffering happening with the characters, rather than showing us. Will’s condition is painted as a struggle only in not being able to stand. No real hardships that he endures are ever fully addressed. Even when he catches pneumonia, he recovers remarkably quickly and moves on.
Me Before You is a cookie-cutter romantic dramedy that severely underplays the value of life in a wheelchair. It lacks the character connection that we find in The Notebook or in The Fault in our Stars but relies heavily on the circumstantial tragedy to elicit emotion. If you’re looking for a reason to cry, this is the movie for you, but be prepared to see exactly where the story is going. You won’t be surprised.