There is nothing exciting about Me Before You
“I know this isn’t a conventional love story. I know there are all sorts of reasons I shouldn’t even be saying what I am. But I love you. I do. I knew it. And I think you might even love me a little bit.” – Jojo Moyes, Me Before You
A gleaming adaptation of the romance novelist and British journalist Jojo Moyes’s best-selling novel of the same name, Me Before You, is an anecdote of an unanticipated relationship. It is about a friendship that unexpectedly unfolds into an unending affection, spreading its wings and altering the existence of two diverse people. The film is a tragic pictorial sketch of Moyes’s literary work with binding elements of love, loss, pain and fidelity.
British theatre’s artistic director and feature film debut director, Thea Sharrock’s tear-jerking romantic adaptation sparkles with emotion, heartache and staunch vows but it lacks depth and substance. The storyline, with some arduous issues, revolves around care, deep friendship, unconventional romance and forlorn hope. The basic impression is all about true love, despair, and memory, as Francois de La Rochefoucauld puts it,
“True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.”
Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), is a debonair aristocrat with a domineering and sardonic nature, living in a Castle in Wales, England. His unduly cynical behaviour is due to an accident that has left him with quadriplegia – a condition caused by severe injury in which patient is unable to move any part of his body below his shoulders.
Lou’s life is not a very satisfied one. Her unthoughtful, narcissistic, fitness freak of a boyfriend (Matthew Lewis) ignores her in every aspect. Their relationship is nothing more than a burden.
Lou’s new job as a caregiver includes providing Will a joyful camaraderie just to lessen his gloominess. With the passage of time, Will starts relishing her presence; he adores her company during Mozart concerts and movies with subtitles – things that Lou has never experienced in her life. The following dialogue pretty much explains the intensity of their newly developed connection.
“Two people who shouldn’t have met, and who didn’t like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other.”
Within a few weeks of their rapport, Lou learns that Will is contemplating euthanasia. Unable to deal with the pain and suffering of his disability, Will had given his parents six months to bring him to Switzerland for the procedure.
His mother’s decision to hire lively Lou is in fact a tactic to change his state of mind. For Will’s mother, Lou is a ray of sunshine for her son who is slowly wilting.
The rest of the plot revolves around Lou’s strategies to setup different excursions and lavish holidays within the period of limited weeks, just to change Will’s excessively pessimistic view of life and cheer him up.
Me Before You, to a certain degree is similar to Julia Roberts starrer Dying Young (1991). Roberts takes care of well-mannered rich man fighting cancer. Soon, the professional relationship turns into a subtle romance, he teaches her about art history while she draws him towards love and trust. The emotive tête-à-têtes of the distressed duo surprisingly collides with Moyes’s storyline.
Me Before You is a commendable illustration of a paralysed man and his romantic endeavour. However, the lead character’s decision to opt for euthanasia conveys a dark theme that a disabled life has no value and ending it is a much better option.
There are two possibilities to change this clumsy perception while floating around realties and romantic lives of two people. Either tell the story in a much braver and truthful manner like The Fault in Our Stars (2014) and Eric Segal’s Love Story (1970) or deliver a positive approach towards disability just like Eddie Redmayne’s The Theory of Everything (2014).
Emilia Clarke delightfully portrayed flawed Lou who has a peculiar fashion sense. Her pleasant klutziness and sincerity can be well read through her expressions that are enough to understand what Lou is thinking or feeling.
Sam Claflin’s character demands more expressions as a wheelchair-bound man but nonetheless, he nicely sustained the character of depressed Will. The duo’s chemistry poured some upbeat moments, while their crucial scenes are never mawkish.
In a nutshell, Me Before You is an antiquated romantic tale with a sensitive subject, in which a temperamental rich man’s brooding heart is seized by a naïve woman, whom he introduces to a cultured lifestyle while she ignites a trusted love in him. You will remain engrossed to your seat till the end of this unconvincing tearjerker and finally be left to evaluate the final decision of the main lead.
For people like me who are fans of Dying Young and The Theory of Everything, Sharrock’s two hour melodrama Me Before You is a typical run-of-the-mill love story with nothing exciting and spellbinding. Moyes’ heart-wrenching novel is much better with detailed characterisations and soul than this sappy screenplay with loopholes.
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