“Me Before You” (2016)
Running Time: 110 minutes
Directed by Thea Sharrock
Featuring: Emilia Clark, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Jenna Coleman
Will Traynor: Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle.
“Me Before You”could have been just another weepy movie of the week about a formerly athletic guy trapped in a wheelchair, but it has been immediately elevated with the casting of Emilia Clark and Sam Claflin as the leads, two actors know primarily from Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games films respectively.
The film has a pretty simple premise and on the surface is a semi-unrequited love story with the two lovebirds trapped by separate and very different circumstances. Lou (Clark) is recently laid off from her café job which she needs to help support her family – her father has been unemployed for a while – she is trapped in her home and with her boyfriend, who is obsessed with fitness, and is struggling to find a way out without seemingly to notice it. Will (Claflin) on the other hand is physically trapped in his chair, a quadriplegic, who we see off-screen in an accident that leaves him missing his old life to a fatal degree.
These two are thrown together as Lou is hired to keep Will company and slowly over the course of the film we see them become friends and potential lovers – but Will is unable to let go of the past and Lou seems unable to embrace a future – particularly a future that may or may not include Will.
One of the highlights of the film is Lou’s dress sense and i can only imagine the fun that Clark (the actress) had in wearing all of her characters outfits – particularly the bumble bee tights which were my personal favourite – although this could have tied into the end of the film a littler bit better.
The story may seem familiar but it is steeped in tragedy and loss and whilst parts of the story are a little too familiar, and the passage of time a little confusing, this is a film that will touch your heart but will also make you think about what ifs? Whether or not you agree with the films outlook it does do one thing very well – it shows that people do not need physical or mental disabilities to be paralysed but in both cases you require courage and the ability to embrace life.
There are a few stand out performances and the two I need to mention are Charles Dance as Will’s Father who when onscreen shines and it is easy to see why he is one of the most in demand English actors around. The recently departed Dr Who companion Jenna Coleman as Lou’s sister is great as well – she to, like Lou seems to be in a holding pattern as a single mother but in the middle of the film makes the decision to go back to Business School.
First time director Sharrock make the mistake many first timers do and that is falling in love with your own footage so some trimming would not have been out of place as well as getting to the chase a bit quicker – but this is an admiral debut.
Melodrama can be a negative word to describe movies but this is bordering on one in the best sense, like those great Sirk movies of the past this movie is not afraid to embrace emotion on a primal level. I recommend this to anyone that has ever faced love with almost unbearable obstacles.