Billionaire playboys always find love. Who cares if they’re in a wheelchair?
Young, brash, sexy and rich banker Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) had it all. However, on one fateful day, he lost it all when a motorcycle ran into him, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Of course, he’s got plenty of money from his parents and whatnot, so he doesn’t have to worry too much about being left in the dirt, but still, he’s miserable, annoyed and pissed-off at the situation that he’s left in. To make sure that he doesn’t get too sad and start making brash decisions, Will’s mom (Janet McTeer) decides to hire a caretaker, Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke), to also act as his friend. Lou is a bit of a light and quirky figure, who enjoys everything there is to life, even if her family isn’t well-of and has to constantly battle to stay alive in the middle-class. While working for the Traynor’s, Lou spends most of her days assisting Will as much as she can, even if he wants nothing to do with her. But after awhile, Will begins to lighten up to Lou’s energetic ways and accepts her for what she is. This leads the two to having some grand times, doing everything and anything that they want, ignoring the fact that Will may never be able to walk again. It’s a method that works for quite some time, until the reality of the situation comes into focus.
Me Before You comes at an unfortunate time where Nicholas Sparks and John Green adaptations come out every year or so. Sure, while there are people who love and adore those kinds of movies, getting choked-up every time a person scream their love for another, even if the other person they’re saying “I love you” to, happens to also have a life-threatening disease or disability, for the most part, they don’t do much to freshen the romance drama. They’re all mostly by-the-numbers and conventional tales, that reach for the tears, get them, and make you feel like crap afterwards.
However, those same issues with the current state of the romance drama is the main reason why Me Before You works as well as it does.
Director Thea Sharrock and writer Jojo Moyes come together in a way that makes this romance feel familiar, but for some reason, because the characters are so well-written and done, there’s something interesting to watching them come together, hate one another at first, start to lighten up after awhile, and, of course, end up falling in love. Sharrock and Moyes know that this type of romance has been done hundreds and thousands of times before, however, they don’t seem to be trying to make any new statement about love, life, or even those with disabilities.
Even though it’s a tad dispiriting to see that the one who is actually stuck in the wheelchair for all his life is basically a billionaire living in a castle, as opposed to, I don’t know, say, a middle-to-lower class citizen living in a broken-down, beaten-up row home in the city, Me Before You gets by because it’s charming. It’s humor hits when you least expect it to and, believe it or not, it’s heart is in the right place; the movie does set out to make each and everyone of us cry, and well, it kind of delivers on that.
Once again, though, it’s all because the characters, from the two love-interests, to everyone else around them, are all clearly defined and interesting, even if they originally seem like types.
Sam Claflin is as charming and as hunky as can be as Will that, despite the fact that he’s in a wheelchair practically the whole movie, you still fall for the guy. Sure, he’s a bit of an a-hole at first, but given his situation and the life he used to live, you sympathize with him, rather than wanting him to shut up and stuff some money-bags in his mouth. And although she doesn’t get a whole lot of opportunities to do so on Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke is so damn lovely and pleasant as Lou, that it surprised me. I had a feeling she was always capable of charming the pants off of me, but as Lou, we really get to see a bright, bubbly and sweet girl who may not have a single bad bone in her body and rather than it seeming like cloying, or annoying, Clarke plays it just well enough to where you believe this gal could be this fun-spirited and lively about the world around her.
And together, yes, their chemistry is quite great. They’re both very attractive Brits, so yes, it’s only obvious that they’d have wonderful chemistry with one another, but it still works, regardless. The two characters help make each other better over time and while it doesn’t happen right away, gradually, they begin to draw closer and closer that, by the time the final act comes into play, and all of a sudden, the idea of a tragedy occurring yet again becomes all too real, we’re involved.
In a way, we feel like we’re in this same relationship with them and it’s hard not to get swept-up in it all.
That said, the final-act will most definitely make or break some people, for better, as well as for worse. Without saying too much, Me Before You gets awfully ballsy, asking the hard questions and giving us even harder answers. It’s nice to see this kind of risk in a rom-com as pleasant as this, but it worked for me. It felt like it was meant for this kind of story, even if the message at the end of it all was a tad hokey and odd, all things considering.
But hey, just see it for yourself. Give your money to this and not to another Nicholas Sparks adaptation.
Consensus: With a fiery chemistry between its two lovely leads, Me Before You works as a rom-com that’s pleasant and sincere enough to work as both as a romance, as well as a comedy, although it never plays either hand too much.
7 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire