This was one the last films I thought I’d be reviewing, but here I am. Usually me and romantic tear jerkers don’t get along well. I’m sure my girlfriend will tell you that about halfway through I grow bored and get very restless. And while Me Before You didn’t jerk any tears for me, it did surprise me and make me rethink my approach to the Romance genre.
The film begins with wealthy business man Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) dragging himself away from his girlfriend’s side to leave for work. As he steps outside in the midst of a torrential downpour he’s involved in accident that we later learn has left him paralysed from the chest down. The once active and thrill seeking Will, now lives life in a wheel chair and is very dependent on his parents and carers. He’s moved from his city apartment to the small town in which his parents own a castle.
On the other side of the castle’s wall is Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) a happy-go-lucky girl with a quirky sense of fashion who works hard to make ends meet so that she can help keep her household afloat whilst her Dad looks for work. When she loses her job at the cafe she’s worked at for the previous 6 years, she desperatley applies to be Will’s carer and succeeds in getting the job.
It was at this point that I thought I had sussed out the entire plot. He’d be sad and depressed. She’d be chirpy and quirky. They get off to a bad start and then they’d fall in love. And I wasn’t that wrong, to be fair. The two do hit it off badly, but that’s mainly to Will’s own temproment. He really is in a deep depression – he sees himself as existing, not living. Which is completely understandable. Claflin plays the posh, arrogant twat rather well. But he also does well to show a good representation of depression.
While I found Louisa quite irritating to begin with, Emilia Clarke brings a really nice and sweet grace to the film. And is a long shot away from the Mother of Dragons that most people know her to be.
I think what I liked most about this film is the fact that it tripped me up. Louisa finds out that Will has struck a deal with his parents: he’ll give his life in the chair 6 more months, after that he wants to end his life with dignity in Switzerland. However Louisa, who has just got around to breaking Will’s shell, asks his parents to let her attempt to change his mind by giving him a feel of what life could be like despite being physically disabled. That was it for me, I thought I knew how the film would end.
But I was wrong, despite doing all the lavish things and seeing the relationship between the two blossom and feeling quite heart felt by Louisa’s determination to make Will happy, he had already made up his mind. Instead of getting a new taste for life like Louisa wanted, Will was saying goodbye to it. And was happy to have Louisa to do it with.
Me Before You was a lovely, British film that does catch you off guard. It wasn’t anything ground breaking and I can’t swear that everyone will love it but what I will say is that it showed that not everything can be fixed with a romance. It was more realistic than I expected and I did enjoy watching it. The performances were great and it did have me laughing in quite a few places. It’s definitely one I wouldn’t protest against watching again.
Of course, the issue of representation does have some significance, here. Many people are annoyed by the way the film ended and I understand why. But I also understand that each case of depression and disability is personal and I don’t feel like I’m versed well enough to comment on what this film does right and wrong for people with disabilities and depression. I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, so if anything I have said about this film has upset anyone please don’t hesitate to tell me. I’m always open to be educated about issues that don’t directly affect me.
Thanks for reading,
all the best,