I will say that I did not dislike this as much as I was expecting to. From the previews, this felt like a Nicholas Sparks love story with the tragic events just ready to tug on the heart strings. I was unaware that this was based on a New York Times bestseller by Jojo Moyes.
Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke)is a sweet young lady who tends to chatter on too much. But she is needed to help bring money into her home because her father cannot find work and her sister is heading to college. So when she loses her waitress job because of tough economic times, her family was feeling the pressure.
Lou had to find something new, despite not having a deep skill set. She applies for and gets a job as a caretaker for a wealthy English man who had been paralyzed from the neck down. Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) was depressed about the turn of events and was feeling as if he did not want to continue to live. However, he had promised his parents (played by Charles Dance and Janet McTeer) that he would give them six months with him before he took any further steps.
The quirky Lou had trouble getting close to Will at first, but as time passes, the pair of them start to form a bond, and Lou attempts to show Will that he has a lot to live for.
Starting off, this film is dreadfully formulaic and predictable. Of course, Will does not like Lou at first and then they grow to care for one another. Lou’s boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis) is shown as taking Lou for granted at best and downright selfish at worst. The relationship grows over time. All of these tropes are very much shown in most movies of this ilk.
What makes this film better than most of those films is the strength of the relationship between Will and Lou. These were two charismatic people who you can’t help but like, even when Will was doing his best to push people away. They make a sweet couple and you want to root for them amidst the sappy, romantic claptrap that encircles the film. The two actors do an admirable job of staving off that sappiness for much of the film.
However, the film’s controversial ending is a challenge. SPOILERS from here on out. When Will decides that, despite his discovery of love for Lou, he is still going to end his life, he is in danger of sending a negative message that life is not worth living if you cannot use your arms and legs. Will’s argument to Lou was remarkably selfish and a slap in the face of everything that they had done together. Now, I am not saying that I wanted them to live happily ever after, and I do believe that this ending was risky, but I think another manner of death, something less intentional and more accidental, might have made this message moot.
Me Before You was better than I thought it was going to be, but it is not without its flaws, some of which were be glaring. By the end of the film, I felt my emotions were being manipulated more than I felt any real emotions to the result of the story. The choices made by Will tainted my opinions on the coupling and made it feel less organic and more exploited.