Me Before You

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As predictable a romance as any, but more enjoyable than most.
★★★
Movie Review #1,063

me_before_you
Distributed by New Line Cinema. Drama, Romance. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some suggestive material. Released June 3, 2016. Directed by Thea Sharrock. Screenplay by Jojo Moyes, from her novel. Starring Sam Claflin, Emilia Clarke, Vanessa Kirby, Jenna Coleman, and Janet McTeer.

“Me Before You” focuses on a seemingly unlikely bond between Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke) and Will Traynor (Sam Claflin). Lou is a modest young woman who doesn’t believe herself to have any sort of talents, but she needs to work to put food on the table. She reluctantly interviews for a job where she must care for Will, a quadriplegic. As soon as she is hired, she likes the job even less. Will is essentially a wealthy asshole who disrespects those who help him most and uses bitter sarcasm to put some mild enjoyment in his life. Soon enough, the two get to know each other a little better. After watching the French film “Of Gods and Men” with him, Lou starts to realize that there’s much more to him than meets the eye. She soon discovers that Will is actually quite likable.

You could probably predict what starts to develop between them as we delve further into in the story.  We can’t dismiss the fact that “Me Before You” is entirely predictable, even if it wasn’t meant to be a completely unpredictable movie. This is what one might call teaching an old dog new tricks. We’ve seen this movie in its basic form a million times: where, by getting to know each other, two individuals progress from enemies to best friends to lovers. But there’s something special about “Me Before You”, and that is how the tale is told. Clarke and Claflin play their characters excellently, in a sense where the bond they develop throughout the movie parallels our own connection to them as an audience. Their less personable moments in the beginning portion of the film are offset by a brand of humor that we might expect from a British film like “Me Before You”. Neither one of these characters is the most likable starting off, but as much as they grow to care for each other throughout the film, we too start to become engrossed in their love story.

But ultimately, “Me Before You” is not as much a love story as it is a reflection on the meaning of life. The two have grown extremely happy with one another, but it has also become increasingly evident that Will just isn’t the same person after the accident that left him paralyzed. This tragic realization is what leads to a heartbreaking conclusion. The message were left with is that love conquers all, but it doesn’t change all. You don’t often find an ending so beautifully honest in a romance movie; certainly not in 2016.

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