Me Before You (2016)

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.

Those dragons definitely aren't fashion experts.
Those dragons definitely aren’t fashion experts.

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.

James Bond? Maybe?
James Bond? Maybe?

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

Is this a wedding? Why is she wearing red? Oh no!
Is this a wedding? Why is she wearing red? Oh no!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire


  1. I thought this was a really offensive message about the disabled men and women who live full lives. He’s not given enough choices or enough chance to make his life great. The ending can be valid for those with terminal illness but for someone like Will it is really offensive.

  2. I loved it! But then again, I read the book, and I had so many expectations which were all met! I loved the casting, it worked out so well, I liked how.. emotive Clarke was! Like, you watch these Hollywood romance movies, and the woman is always so stern and let’s just say it, smoothly fixed, that you don’t expect to see a lot of emotion from leading ladies. Clarke gave us all! She worked those eyebrows to the fullest! (I might use this comment in my review, cause it describes her character so well I think).

    The ending broke me.. and the fact that I heard there are people annoyed about the fact that he chose that way, but it was his choice, and his choice was driven by factors nobody else could understand because he is a fictional, made up character, and as that, his choice is understandable.

    • I wanted to remind people this is fiction, mettelray, but you have done it for me.
      Still, fiction quite often is drawn from real life. Ask any of my author friends.

  3. I read the book shortly after is came out and was pleased to see the movie wasn’t presented so drastically different from the book. Screen adaptations so often are miles away from the author’s vision. The movie is about romance, but also about hard choices (Remember how Lou a couple of times almost chose to quit and why?). I believe each person with a disability makes a choice about how they respond to their actual ABILITIES following a trauma or a diagnosis. Disabilities are not all physical. The character of Will, unlike many who have disabilities far worse (born with no arms or legs!) made a decision to stay bitter. He was the one who decided he had no quality of life. With his brains and money, he could have done a lot. This is another talking point of the movie, of which there are many.
    Thanks for the review, Don.

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