Me Before You

A sub par tear-jerker.
Sarah Ward
Published on June 16, 2016


Think fairytales are just for children? Think again. Most romance movies mightn't actually focus on a handsome prince or a downtrodden young woman with an evil stepmother, but they still take adult viewers into the realm of pure fantasy. In fact, in charting the blossoming bond between a rich former adrenaline junkie and a small town gal, Me Before You sticks closer to the storybook formula than most. Pumpkins don't turn into carriages here, but if they did, it wouldn't feel out of place.

Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) is spirited away, metaphorically speaking, when she starts working as a carer for the wealthy Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), who was injured in a traffic accident two years prior and isn't coping with his quadriplegic state. A clash of classes and temperaments ensues, with the solemn Will happy to hide out in his parent's castle, and the cheerful Louisa sticking around purely to help support her family. It's only when he starts to open up, and she discovers just how miserable he is, that the pair start to form a connection.

Whether you've already read Jojo Moyes' best-selling novel, or are coming into the story with no prior knowledge, where the film adaptation is headed is obvious from the get go. As scripted by the author herself and directed by first-time filmmaker Thea Sharrock, the big-screen version is as predictable as it sounds — with one complications. Here, it's not just Will's physical condition that adds difficulties, but his desire to end his own life.

Unfortunately, combining fairy tale wish fulfilment with such a serious subject proves more than a little unsettling, and isn't helped by the movie's determination to approach everything in as simplistic a manner as possible. With the visuals given a soft, warm glow and the soundtrack littered with Ed Sheeran and Imagine Dragons, Me Before You takes the safe, easy option whenever it can. Touching upon a weighty issue might be designed to add a dose of reality to the otherwise fanciful narrative, but in practice it never feels like anything more than an excuse to ramp up the melodrama.

That leaves the likeable Clarke and the less convincing Clafin with a tricky task, and one that they can't quite achieve. Though they boast enough chemistry as a couple, and the bubbly Clarke remains a delight to watch, their characters are about as believable as Cinderella and Prince Charming. In support, it's actually Janet McTeer and Charles Dance as Will's parents that fare best, and bring some much-needed nuance to the drama. Thanks to the latter's involvement, the highlight of the film is seeing Clarke share a few scenes with her former Game of Thrones co-star — which says a lot about the sub par tear-jerker in which they find themselves.


Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x