Thoughts on Me Before You (2016)

I am a sucker for a good rom-com and judging by the trailer alone (as I haven’t read the book it is based on) Me Before You looked like the kind of story that would make you swing violently between laughing and crying.

While I didn’t really want to put myself into a situation where I would be silently sobbing in a cinema I decided to risk the emotional turbulence and give it a go. YOLO! I also made sure I didn’t wear any mascara and grabbed some napkins during my pre-movie lunch just in case – a girl can never be over prepared for waterworks after all.

What can I say about this movie? If About Time, The Notebook and Marley and Me had a love child (somehow) Me Before You would be it. It’s got the sweet message component of About Time (along with the appearance of a red dress), the quirky and extremely bubbly leading lady we wish we could be more like as per The Notebook and it mixes in some emotional manipulation and strong family values and attachment vaguely reminiscent of Marley and Me.

I understand why it has received some mixed reviews. It deals with some sensitive topics such as the repercussions of spinal cord injury, being stripped of your independence and whether or  not you should have the right to decide your fate, even if it goes against social acceptance. For a lot of people this could be difficult to take in, they may have strong opinions that go against the direction of the film or they may simply be expecting the movie to take a different path than it does.

Whether you love the movie or end up passionately angry over it, it does its job, it makes you feel, it prompts a response from you. And, in a world where there are a lot of movies being pumped out for the sake of being noticed and little else, it’s nice to be reminded that not everything is action packed heroics and glamor shots, or perfectly scripted for a happily ever after romance. It’s a sweet movie that doesn’t linger too long on scenes or go all out to deliberately make you cry (even when characters cry it looks like they are still smiling).

What really stuck with me after watching Me Before You was the character of Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke; Game of Thrones, Terminator Genisys). She was funny, sweet, thoughtful, stubborn and had a really bizarre fashion sense I would never in my wildest dreams attempt, yet she made it work for her. I think her complete honesty made for the funnier moments throughout, especially when put up against Will Traynor’s (Sam Claflin; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1) sarcasm and dry wit.

For me, Lou was the driving force of the narrative, the central focus, with Will acting as her motivational nudge and encouragement along the way, urging her to reach her full potential and see the world. I identified with Lou and her complacency to stay within the confines of a routine, of the familiar. It’s so easy to do. To stay because of family ties and other relationships instead of exploring the wider world because you feel you have to. It’s a trap a lot of us fall into and one that is easy to dismiss as just another part of growing older.

If you like a sweet movie with subtle British humour and a heartfelt message then I recommend you add Me Before You to your “movies to watch” list.

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