You don’t have to be an ampersand lover to enjoy the emotional intelligence and the eyebrow embroidery of “Me Before You”‘s star Emilia Clarke . The thirty-year -old’s face is as fresh and transparent as a toddler’s. Her job is to make a paraplegic move from his implacable despair over his loss to a creatively imaginative being who can still give something to the world. She is only partially successful.
Though based on Jo Jo Moyes’ novel and her screen script, the film still loses the nuances of the euthanasia debate. This is a “love conquers most” kind of story. One that wouldn’t pit another cliche ” when you have your health you have everything” right next to it. Will Traynor loved his life. It was privileged and there were narcissistic and snobbish chords. He excelled at every sport and was the decision-maker in his company. His losses were as tragic as those of the symphony conductor in the French film ” Intouchables”.
His decision I liked no better than I did after closing the Moyes’ book. I have not read the sequel, but I am curious. I know Louisa’s path after Will will not include seven year boyfriend Patrick of triathlon fame, or a holiday in Norway. I hope she doesn’t work at “Dignitas” in marketing or in palliative care. Either would be too pat. And besides, I liked her line to Will, ” Some choices you don’t get to make”.
While Director Thea Shamock abides by book and script, the film’s pace is slow and uneven. While the short and pithy sarcasm and directives of Will are enhanced, the ponderings of Lou are erased. We see her in action more than in thought. Charles Dance as Will’s father Steven is also softened. Matt Lewis plays the clueless Patrick just like I imagined him. Stephen Peacoke as Nathan, the physical therapist, added practicality, warmth and understanding of the intricacies of care. Janet McTeer portrayed Camilla Traynor, Will’s mother, with sympathy. The characters were underwritten compared to the novel, but Lou’s sister ( Jenna-Louise Coleman) maintained her importance naturally and with supportive feeling.
The cloying sound track of matched emotions is infuriating. When ” you know it can get hard sometimes” started, I wanted to yell out, ” oh, please!”. The lyrics were like a highlighter over underlining over bold script in case you didn’t get it. It’s loudness overtook the moment. It distracted rather than deepened the feeling. The one quiet scene under the trees where you could hear the leaves rustle and share what Lou and Will heard was refreshing and further accentuated the corny , over-played score.
The acting is the movie’s strength and the cinematography is very good. The island storm scene arrestingly beautiful, if a tad over-metaphoric. You will remember the sexy shaving scene. You will delight in the strong parental love of both Will’s and Lou’s family. It is not a great film, but I can do class-driven melodrama once in a blue moon. As Will Traynor suggests, “widen your horizons”.