Director: Thea Sharrock
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Jenna Coleman, Matthew Lewis, Vanessa Kirby, Stephen Peacocke, Brendan Coyle
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Official Website: http://mebeforeyoumovie.com
Opening Day: 2 June 2016
Synopsis: Sometimes love takes you where you never expected to go… Louisa “Lou” Clark (Emilia Clarke) lives in the English countryside. With no clear direction in her life, the quirky and creative 26-year-old goes from one job to the next in order to help her tight-knit family make ends meet. Her normally cheery outlook is put to the test, however, when she faces her newest career challenge: a job as caregiver and companion to Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), a wealthy young banker who became wheelchair-bound in an accident and whose whole world changed dramatically in the blink of an eye. No longer an adventurous soul, the now cynical Will has all but given up. That is until Lou determines to show him life is worth living. Embarking on a series of adventures, both Lou and Will get more than they bargained for, and find their lives—and hearts—changing in ways neither one could have imagined
Privileged family background and upbringing, gorgeous girlfriend, career high flyer and an apartment that would probably be tagged as #housegoals on social media – Will Traynor led a pretty much perfect life. That all changed after an accident, rendering Will a shut in, cynical quadriplegic. In comes Louisa “Lou” Clark – the village girl-next-door to Will’s tortured shut-in prince of the castle. Predictably, they fall in love to give Will his Reason For Living.
In all honesty, Me Before You, adapted from the bestselling Jojo Moyes book of the same name, should be so enjoyable and oddly carthartic. The storyline does not surprise – boy meets girl, boy and girl spend time together, they fall in love and then… something... Having ridiculously good looking people fall in love on screen was probably the best part… or actually the entire movie, probably helped.
The good looking people – first we have Sam Claflin who stars as Will Traynor. In a way, the role was a welcome change for Claflin, whose previous memorable parts as Finnick Odair from the Hunger Games trilogy and Alex from Love, Rosie typecasted him as the charming, devoted but unlucky victor/ childhood friend. While Will Turner was arguably charming, devoted and unlucky too, the quadriplegic role challenged Claflin to emote only with his facial expressions. To surprising results, as Claflin’s expressions were well done without being excessive, though limited.
Just his luck then, that Claflin was acting alongside with Emilia Clarke, whose eyebrows seemed to have a life of their own. While not showing much emotion as the mother of dragons in popular HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones, Clarke’s emotions ran wild in this movie as the expressive and easy-going Louisa “Lou” Clark. Lou brought colour into Will’s world – literally, with her outlandish shoes and outfits contrasting sharply with Will’s muted, dark and simple designer threads, emphasising their difference in background – and encourages the man to leave his self-imposed prison to start living again. Clark fit the high energy role like a glove, playing Lou as exuberant and enthusiastic, yet still awkward and genuine. The chemistry made even the awkward flirting scenes between Will and Lou largely enjoyable to watch, as they spar with words and push each other to break boundaries.
Other than the people, the shots of the English countryside was also breath-taking. Will was first shown to be surrounded by white, black and grey marble, steel and concrete in London, pre-accident. This was rapidly changed to, and contrasted with, the idyllic, pastel countryside, which was for a moment was reminiscent of Wes Anderson, though not as consistent. The long shots of the surroundings also provided a good visual break when the topic gets too heavy, which was much appreciated.
Fans of the book might also realise that there were several tweaks made during the transition from page to screen. Purists might protest, and yes, there were some scenes where the non-book readers might scratch their heads over, but the removal of some roles and sub-plots might actually improve the flow of the movie, and allow the audience to pay more attention to the relationships between the characters remaining. Am example would be that between Will and his mother, where one tries to put him or herself in the mother’s shoes, where Camilia Traynor (Janet McTeer) probably milked the most tears from the audience.
Anyone who watched the trailer would probably expect the movie to be a cryfest – and it did not disappoint in that aspect. That said, the movie does have its comedic moments (mostly by Lou) and in all, is surprisingly enjoyable. Another much appreciated point was that the movie tried to avoid glamourising the disabled, as well as to force fit miracles for a happily ever after. That might disappoint some, but the book was a bestseller for a reason, so why fix what was not broken?
(Deeply emotional and touching, ignore the chick lit clichés and focus on the bonds between the characters to best enjoy this movie)
Review by Goh Yan Hui