Saturday, June 4, 2016

Movie Review #433: "Me Before You" (2016)

Movie"Me Before You"
Director: Thea Sharrock
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
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Desperate for a job, Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) takes a position as a caregiver for a quadriplegic man named Will Traynor (Sam Claflin). Will does his best to make her job and life miserable and to keep an emotional wall between them, but Lou's cheerful, kind nature and love for life eventually start to crack his sour shell as the two form an unlikely bond.

Directed by television director Thea Sharrock, "Me Before You" is an adaptation of the novel by the same name, which is written by Jojo Moyes, who also penned the screenplay. Emilia Clarke plays Louisa Clark, aka Lou, who was just laid off from her job at a cafe and is desperate to find work because her family needs the money. Lou as a character seems to have a love for life in general, wears flamboyant, bright, fun clothes, and is unbearably charming and likable. She takes a job working for the wealthy Traynor family, whose son Will, played by Sam Claflin, was hit by a motorcycle 2 years earlier, leaving him quadriplegic. Before the accident, Will led an extremely active lifestyle and would spend his days traveling the world, working long hours, and having fun while going on whatever adventure he wanted from skiing to cliff jumping. Since becoming paralyzed, he has turned cynical and miserable. He never leaves the house and hardly talks, unless it's to make a sarcastic comment at someone else's expense. His parents hope Lou will be just the right person to cheer him up and show him how good life can still be, even under the hardest of circumstances.

In many ways, "Me Before You" is a modern day fairy tale. A poor peasant girl meets a wealthy handsome prince who will forever change her life. Though Will isn't technically a prince, he literally lives in a castle. In between the times featuring a cheerful Lou and a bitter Will, there are some pretty serious issues discussed during this film. While the book delves much deeper into the discussion of things like disability and life after becoming disabled, suicide, sexual assault, and euthanasia, some of these are never really focused on during the movie, and in the end, these topics are either glossed over or dropped from the script entirely. This has a very formulaic plot and doesn't offer anything new, but this doesn't mean it's not worth watching. We liked the characters a lot, so we never felt like the basic, familiar story hindered our enjoyment. We can't help but be pulled in by the charm of Clarke and Claflin and their great on-screen chemistry. Surprisingly, there's quite a bit of humor in this film, even if it's delivered in an unintentionally funny manner. Claflin plays Will well with Moyes' witty, sarcastic dialogue, and Emilia Clarke's smile and oddball facial expressions may make even the most sour-pussed person grin. Unfortunately, it is also this writing by Moyes that can cause some extremely corny professions and exclamations in the latter portion of its run time, and when coupled with dorky delivery and goofy faces, it comes off as cheesy and borderline soap opera unrealistic.

"Me Before You" will more than likely please fans of the book and its intended audience: females between the ages of 13 and beyond. Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin are excellent casting choices for their respective parts, with Clarke being an infectious presents and Claflin giving the difficult, controversial skirting of its themes some much needed sarcasm and wit. They both breathe life into the film with their great performances. There are some moments that come off more corny than they are realistic and loving, but more often than not, we enjoy what this movie contains. It might even wring a tear or two out of you if you're not careful. It will probably garner a bit of unwanted backlash because of its sensitive theme, but it's not like the book hasn't been out for over 4 years.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~54%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "The One I Love"

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