Thursday, 12 January 2017

ME BEFORE YOU (film) was enjoyable thanks to its leading lady

Me Before You - 2016
Director: Thea Sharrok.
Cast: Emilia Clarke / Sam Clafin / Brendan Coyle / Jenna Coleman / Matthew Lewis / Charles Dance
Content Rating: PG 13 for thematic elements and some suggestive material.
Source: Borrowed from a friend.

A girl in a small town forms an unlikely bond with a recently-paralyzed man she's taking care of.

Please Note: This review contains spoilers of the story. 

I haven't read the book yet, but when my friend offered to bring the film with her when she came to visit, I couldn't say no. And, in all honesty, I usually end up doing things in the "wrong" order and watching the movie before the book ;)  

The cinematography was excellent, the soundtrack was brilliant and atmospheric, and visually it was gorgeous; colourful, radiant, and with deep, saturated effects.  The pacing was perfect, and the story added a twist on the usual "chick-flick" romantic comedy/drama.  
The supporting cast was strong and decent, with the likes of Harry Potter's Matthew Lewis, Doctor Who's Jenna Coleman, and Downton Abbey's Brendan Coyle.

There was beautiful chemistry between Emilia Clarke and Sam Clafin, but Clarke was the real star of the show. She threw herself so deeply into the character and it was a pure delight to watch her stroll around in her ridiculous outfits, and as she declared her most passionate feelings; because, of course, her character never held anything back. She was adorable, quirky, and hilarious, and her character was utterly lovable.
Clarke did, unfortunately, overact a few times, but I suppose she could get away with it because her character was so exaggerated anyway - even if the times she did overact were very obvious.

My main criticism with the film is how it ended. I haven't read the book, so I don't know how it handled the ending/resolution, but I honestly thought the whole theme of the story as portrayed by the film was messed up. It was saying "live boldly, life is for living", but Will's very death made everything fall flat. The film was basically telling disabled people: 'don't bother living', 'nothing will ever get better', and 'end it now'. Rough, I know, but that's what came through. And it was not okay.
The theme was saying that disabled people might as well kill themselves because life isn't worth living if you can't do the things you used to be able to do when you had the full potential of your body. Not to mention that the 'living boldly, life is for living' message basically came across to mean that having a lot of money would give you that 'living boldly' life; that you could only really live life and enjoy it if you had a lot of money. (That was clear at the end when Clarke is seen in Paris, enjoying herself using the money Will gave her.)
I don't agree with that message. You should push yourself - live life boldly, take chances - regardless of how much money you have. In fact, the lack of money should actually push you further to achieve your dreams.  

Based on those two messages, I think the whole theme was very messed up.  

Me Before You was vibrant and funny thanks to Emilia Clarke, but ultimately it was as selfish as it sounds. 


  1. I have this on my computer, but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. Glad you mostly enjoyed it - although I don't agree that you need money to enjoy yourself. It does sound like a pretty selfish movie, but thanks for the review :)

    1. Lol ;) Yeah, it wasn't as beautiful or spellbinding as I'd hoped it would be.
      Sure :) Thanks for the comment!

  2. Great review! I have both read the book and seen the movie and I enjoyed both of them, but I do agree with your point about the themes. It is sending a rather negative message. But yes, Emilia Clarke was great as the main character!

    1. Thanks Lindsey! Glad you enjoyed them :) I hope to read the book soon.
      Yeah I thought so :(
      But totally, Emilia Clarke was brilliant!

  3. Replies
    1. She definitely did!
      Thanks for stopping by :)

  4. Great review. The overacting sort of bothered me, but as you said it sort of fit the character.
    I somewhat disagree with you about the ending. Let me elaborate, because I read the book and watched the film and was thinking about these themes. I personally had a problem with Will's "you need to live," "you're wasting your life," "go out there and live." And he himself did not abide by these rules.
    However, I don't think the film was telling disabled people that life is not worth living. Instead, it was more saying that whether or not life is worth living should be the person's choice. For Will living like that was not okay. He was in severe pain almost every day, he had to swallow countless medication, he was in and out of the hospital constantly, he was not happy, he did not enjoy life and even though he fell in love and was shown that he can still travel and do things, he decided that this is not how he wants to continue and the pain is not worth what he's getting in return.
    And in my opinion, this is his choice. This is his right as a human being with a free will. He's allowed to decide that this life in his opinion is not worth living.
    And everyone else has the right to choose that their lives are worth living and obviously I think there need to be strict laws etc. to make sure people don't get taken advantage of, don't get talked into it, and don't make those decisions while being clinically depressed. It's a slippery slope and it brings a ton of ethical questions, but in the end, if a person decides they do not want to live with constant pain and disability, that is their right.
    And this is why I liked this book, because England just once more decided against assisted suicide and against the right to die and I think that's wrong and I'm glad the book shows that sometimes love doesn't heal everything and sometimes a person decides it's not worth it.
    (I am Swiss, so I grew up with Dignitas/Exit being something our country allows, and I'm very glad it does. For me it's not physical disability so much though, I think I personally could find happiness in other things like books and music etc. I do not know how I'd react to constant pain though. Will however was an adrenaline junkie, I'm not. For me it's Alzheimers, if I ever get that diagnosis, I'd like to go before I lose my memories.)
    I hope my rambling made sense.
    P.S. I did get the life needs money to be happy message, and I was bothered by that one.

    1. Thank you Olivia :)
      I agree with what you say about Will's "not practicing what he preached".
      And thank you for that explanation. I can totally see what you're saying, and I suppose the movie's message could be taken both ways. I'm torn, actually. I partly agree with what you're saying, and I suppose it could be taken both ways. How the movie portrayed it, it could be taken either way. Since you've read the book, you're definitely more knowledgeable on the message they were trying to show, so I'll think I'll wait till I read the book to make any final conclusions. Thank you for that, though! You've definitely made me think :)

    2. I think I find the "disabled people may as well kill themselves" message so very horrible that my mind kind of actively tried to get away from that one and find the other one, if you get what I mean? I think the film followed the book quite closely, but I do think the book manages to explain Will's reasoning a bit better. Though I've read many reviews of the book criticising the ending for conveying the wrong message. I do very much hope my interpretation is the one the author was going for? But, I will also admit that she wasn't the best at bringing it across, so I do understand where you're coming from and I would definitely say the author is balancing on a very thin line.

    3. I totally get that. If they were saying what I originally thought, then yes: that's disgusting. And I hope I've got the wrong idea, and that the author meant what you think :)
      Thanks so much for these comments. I've really enjoyed discussing this and learning from your interpretation. Hopefully I'll be able to read the book soon, and then see how the author handled it.

  5. I read the book a couple years ago and saw the movie when it was first released. I thought it was a pretty faithful adaptation of the books and was really pleased with the casting. I didn't get the same message, though. Maybe it comes from reading the book, but I felt Will was making a very personal decision. Yes, one that effected more than just himself, but he was exercising his right to live and die on his terms. I never felt there was an overriding message of Will's way was the only way and that all disabled people should just end it and not try. My take-away was that it was just one man's choice... not a message to all.
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    1. That's really interesting to hear. I'm so glad you came away with that message, rather than I thought! I don't know - maybe I need to read the book to fully grasp what was being said? Personally, I came away with the negative message, but maybe it is subjective? Just how we all look at it differently...

    2. I think you're exactly right, Amy. It's completely subjective (just as most forms of art/creativity are) and each person takes something different from it. I think that's the beauty of it. :)

    3. Very true :) Lovely point.

  6. I adore Emilia Clarke. I haven't seen the movie yet but the ending of the book definitely sat funny with me. I can't decide how I feel about it. I totally get how it's problematic and you never know how sensitive to these things someone is. Someone could really take the themes to heart. Then, on the other hand, I think it was about Will's choice to end his life and it sort of fits in with current events. Like, should people be able to decide when to end their own lives? I think absolutely and I think this might be one thing the movie was trying to portray. But, it's a bit of a mess. I think writing something like this will always be a risky move because it can border on problematic or just go completely over the line.

    1. Yeah, she is lovely :)
      Very true, great points. I guess it boils down to how each individual person interprets the message, and that way there are bound to be different opinions.


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