Me Before You, the movie based on Jojo Moyes’ novel of the same name, follows the bold, quirky Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke) who finds employment in the opulent Traynor household as a caregiving companion to an adventurer-turned-quadriplegic named Will (Sam Claflin). It is soon revealed that Will suffers from serious depression as a result of his new condition rendering his life unbearable; he is contemplating assisted suicide. So, Louisa conspires with Nathan (Stephen Peacocke) (his nurse), and both his parents (Janet McTeer and Charles Dance), to show Will that the life of a quadriplegic man can be just as fulfilling and meaningful as his former one.
When a film’s source material has such a large following, casting becomes crucial. Co-stars Clarke and Claflin have an easy, genuine chemistry that plays equally well into scenes lighthearted and heartbreaking alike. Another thing the two actors share is a mastery of eyebrow expression. While Clarke’s make her emotional scenes captivating to watch, Claflin’s facial expression in general was key to his role, as he only had use of muscles above his shoulders. Both actors displayed incredible emotional range; Louisa’s dorkiness and Will’s cocky and witty nature were prevalent in one scene, and in the next, they shatter our hearts with a single word. The role of Will Traynor was a challenge from a physical and emotional standpoint, and nobody could have done it better than Claflin.
As someone who actively hates a good love story, I can say that this is a romance anyone can get behind. The story is more than a sappy, random, romance; it’s about two people who better each other’s lives – romance is the side dish. With commentary on family, Ableism, and our responsibility to live well, what’s not to like?
Apparently, a lot. Disabled activist group Not Dead Yet, staged a protest at the film’ red carpet premiere; claiming that Will’s choices and advice to Louisa to “live boldly”, depict disabled lives as worse than death. While everyone has the right to interpret art in their own way; theirs is certainly not what author Jojo Moyes and director Thea Sharrock intended.
The story is of one man with a realistically imperfect character, who finds that without his mobility and health, life is unbearable. Louisa, Nathan, and everyone else in his life are persistent in their belief that his life IS one worth living, and they go to great lengths to show him. Traynor’s decisions and thoughts are entirely true to his character. The story is about loving and respecting those closest to us, although we don’t condone their actions. As Louisa’s father said: “You can’t change people. You love them”.
Above all, though, I think instead of tearing down her work, we should be commending Moyes for bringing issues of Ableism and Assisted Suicide to light. Now let’s start talking about them. Overall, a 5/5, watch with tissues close at hand.
Article Submitted by Rachel Hill