Movie Review: Me Before You (2016)

Me_Before_You_(film)

So last night I was in the mood for a love story, something around the likes of The Notebook or The Vow but not too deep like In the Mood for Love. After much deliberation I opted for ‘Me Before You’ which is the adaption of the Best Seller by the same name by Jojo Moyes. I was intrigued by the story as it involved the usual two characters, but one of them (the hulky rich banker) was a quadriplegic. GAME CHANGER!

The opening scene sets the background to the story; we find out who William Traynor is (played by Sam Caflin from The Hunger Games) who is obviously the rich, sexy, charming banker who has a terrible accident which leads to life-changing spinal damage, and the happy-go-lucky Louisa Clark (played by Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones) who lives a quiet life in the country, going from job to job in order to help her family. After losing her job at the local cafe, she gets the job as carer for Mr Banker and then the story begins. (Mind you, Mr Banker has a nurse ‘Nathan’ helping him out, so she is more like a ‘companion’)

So, what is good about this movie? The story in itself is refreshingly new, as it deals not only with disability, but also with the controversial topic that is euthanasia. The director, Thea Sharrock, manages to delve into this world in a way which appears more ‘sad’ than ‘dark’ and deals with this continuous conflict in a manner which is touching, and personal. Sam Caflin as Traynor is superb, as you actually believe he is a quadriplegic, and his ability to convey so much emotion using just facial expression is second to none.  The overall filming is also pleasing to watch, with Sharrock mentioning that she wanted to wash the town with a light wash of grey to really showcase the realness of England. The castle is grand and takes center stage (didn’t I mention that there was a castle?!?!) to many of the scenes. The entire movie is very pleasing to the eyes.

Sadly, that is where the good cease and the bad commence. Emilia Clark’s happy stance can be easily mistaken as cartoonish, and fails to make her story believable. Her constant grinning becomes annoying 3 minutes into the movie, and makes her look as if she is 12 not a woman of 26. Much has also been discussed about the fact that Traynor could have been played by an actual disabled actor, but as there were many scenes where he was scuba diving and running around pre-accident, I do wonder if those scenes may have been difficult to film with a disabled actor, but then again, isn’t that what CGI is for? It also has a very ‘fantasy’ feel about it, we don’t get to see the actual struggles Traynor endures, such as getting up or using the bathroom. The director has mentioned that that was intentional as she wanted the story to be about their relationship and not cast a shadow on an already dark situation but I disagree. If this movie is done to honour and raise awareness of this issues, then surely the struggles must be shown.

However, for me the biggest let down is how ‘squeaky clean’ the movie is. The romance resembles teenage summer love, and there is a serious lack of chemistry. For a movie with a rating of 12A, you expect more than two quick and awkward kisses. Also, it is hard to believe that in that scenario when so much time is spent together, that their love is so…tame. There is no real closeness or connection which results in the build up being only skin deep. I mean, I still cried because it doesn’t take me much to cry, but I didn’t feel the pain in the same way I did with The Notebook. The movie misses depth, emotion and passion which are vital ingredients in a love story.

Would I recommend it? I would if you are in the right mood for it, but it is not one of those great love stories which will stay with your forever.

 

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