Adapted by Jojo Moyes from her novel of the same title, Me Before You tells the story of Louisa “Lou” Clark (Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones), a sweet and quirky woman in her mid-twenties in desperate need of a job to help her family make ends meet. Enter: Will Traynor (Sam Claflin, The Hunger Games franchise, The Huntsman franchise), a handsome and wealthy twenty-something male who was paralyzed from the neck down due to a tragic motorbike accident two years prior to the movie’s start. Will’s parents are in search of a caretaker for him; essentially someone to keep him company and bring a little joy into the life that he feels was unfairly brought upon him. Lou interviews with Will’s parents for the job, and her happy-go-lucky attitude and sunny disposition win her the job, despite her total lack of experience in the field. She is met with a cold reception by Will, who doesn’t seem to care much about anything since his “normal” life was taken away. As one would expect, Lou eventually wears him down, softening him a little bit and making him laugh (apparently for the first time in a couple years). Incredibly cliché, I know. They fall in love, blah blah blah, but the plot takes an unexpected turn, one that I will not spoil for you in this review. It is, however, what made me cry way too much in public, so make of that what you will.
Riddled with clichés, like most romantic films are, Me Before You also featured some unexpected depth that made it probably a half step above the typical, lachrymose film I thought it would be. Director Thea Sharrock made too obvious the fact that she wanted an emotional reaction from the viewer, not leaving that to chance at all. Any opportunity to manipulate the audience was taken, shown by the use of not one but TWO (!!) Ed Sheeran ballads and far too many loving stares between Clarke and Claflin. I knew exactly what Sharrock wanted me to feel the entire time, simply because it was spelled out for me exactly. It upsets me when filmmakers assume that their audience isn’t intelligent enough to understand nuanced films and feel the need to make things blatant, just as Sharrock did. To her advantage, Clarke’s and Claflin’s performances were both decent, in that they were able to fully portray (maybe too fully, it felt really forced and exaggerated at points) the emotions that they and the audience were meant to be feeling.
Though I have more positive things to say about it than I expected I would, I can’t say that I enjoyed the film very much. But why did you cry at a movie you didn’t even like?! Because I’m a baby, that’s why. Plus, Emilia Clarke is super charming and sweet, which was debatably the film’s most redeeming quality. Me Before You is certainly not a movie I would’ve sought out on my own, nor will I recommend it to anyone that isn’t a masochist who enjoys exceptionally mediocre filmmaking, but it will definitely appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks and crying in public.