Movie Review: “Me Before You” – Surprisingly Funny

Written by Caitlin Cooper June 22, 2016

Me Before You

I may watch fantasy or sci-fi films often, but I like a good contemporary film about love, family, and just life in general (with all its up and downs) too. They can make you laugh, make you cry, and you may walk away feeling like you’re understood by more people than you thought. Films like The Fault In Our Stars which focus on characters whose lives are made difficult by illness have become quite popular in recent years. Me Before You, based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Jojo Moyes, is similar and yet its subject is more controversial. However, it’s unexpectedly light for the majourity of the film before it delves fully into the darkness of depression. You can’t really talk about this movie without spoilers, so here’s fair warning before you read on.

In Me Before You, Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke) is job hunting in her small town. So when an ad to be a caregiver for recently paralyzed Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) comes along, she takes a chance and gets the job. Will may be harsh and cold at first, but it’s because he’s still coping with the accident and how his lifestyle has changed. But Lou is determined to cheer him up, and along the way she finds love and happiness with Will. Then she realizes that his depression is something only he can truly fight against.

“Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle.”

I can’t remember a time when a full theatre actually laughs out loud at every single joke in a film, but that’s exactly what happened when I saw Me Before You. And I thought the movie was surprisingly hilarious too (maybe minus a couple of jokes). The film has sarcastic and dry British humour, and it makes these real and quirky characters come to life and charm the audience. We first only see glimpses of Will’s depression and Lou’s struggle to support her family, but the end quickly delves into just how depressed Will is. And that’s the way I look at this film: Will has not learned to cope with what happened to him, so his sort of grief over his injury has consumed him. Note that I cannot comment on whether the film accurately depicts a disabled person’s life. I find it interesting the book and the film depict assisted suicide, a much debated topic. But without focusing on that itself, Me Before You spends so much of it’s time being bright and cheery for the most part, with a little bit of focus on depression, that the ending feels too jarring and out of place. I honestly think the film would’ve been pretty much perfect had it had a cheesy happy ending. Sure, it’s more “edgy” to have a sad ending, but it doesn’t work here. It feels like the subject of depression isn’t done justice. Add to that, I almost feel like we don’t get to know the characters very well, and perhaps that’s part of why the ending seems abrupt. Lou learning to go on adventures and take chances, to think of herself for once is a lovely lesson, but it feels a little bittersweet given that she loses one of her best friends.

Me Before You

What Me Before You has going for it aside from it’s great comedy is its strong cast. Clarke playing Lou is such a vast departure from her role on Game of Thrones, but it was fun to see her playing someone more real. Clarke plays Lou so well that she completely seems to become the character on screen. She’s odd, sweet, witty, and vulnerable. Claflin as Will is amazing. No other words are necessary. It’s probably cliche to say it, but Claflin and Clarke absolutely make this film. Of course, Matthew Lewis’ role as Patrick, Lou’s insensitive boyfriend, is amusing partly because we know him primarily for playing Neville Longbottom. Brendan Coyle and Jenna Coleman are great additions to the cast. They may not have a lot of scenes, but every scene they’re in is fantastic.

“You are scored on my heart, Clark. You were from the first day you walked in, with your ridiculous clothes and your bad jokes and your complete inability to ever hide a single thing you felt.”

Basically, I like Me Before You. It’s funny and sweet, with a truly talented cast. The topic of depression is important, but I don’t think it was done very well in this film. The ending seems too abrupt because the film spends most of its time trying to charm the audience (which it does). The ending, while potentially controversial to some, seems out of place. I wish we’d gotten to know the characters more, and that the ending was a happy one. I don’t love Me Before You, but I enjoyed most of it.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Me Before You

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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