Based on the best-selling novel “Me Before You” by Jojo Moynes, the highly anticipated romantic drama follows Louisa Clark, played by Emilia Clarke, an eccentric, spunky and (some would say) overly optimistic girl in dire need of a job after being laid off from her job of six years at a local coffee shop. Hey Game of Thrones fans, you might be a bit shocked to see Clarke without the blonde wig but yes, that’s her! I know you might be thinking, “Oh, this is the typical romantic-comedy where the poor damsel in distress falls in love with a wealthy boy and they reconcile their differences and play on the cheesy and oh-so cliche archetype of too many romantic flicks.” Well, not quite! There’s a twist … Louisa Clark, although quite idealistic, finds a job as a caretaker for the quadriplegic son of the wealthy Traynor family, Will Traynor (played by Sam Claflin). SPOILER ALERT: Will became paralyzed due to a motorcycle accident, and is completely bound to his wheelchair through which his only means of enjoying life are listening to his loud music and watching movies with subtitles in the confines of his own room.
Will is understandably angry and depressed due to constant flashbacks and reminders of the perfect life he once lived as an adventurous young man who scuba dived, cliff dived and excelled in just about everything. He has lost hope in the world and desires to end his own life for the sake of himself and others. Will’s parents only want him to be happy, yet he finds it impossible to be happy since he is in constant pain and wants his old life back. Louisa Clark (lovingly referred to as Lou), through her ever-optimistic attitude and brightly colored, crazy bumble-bee-themed wardrobe (it was blinding), which Will says fits the taste of a grandmother, tries to instill happiness in Will, as not only his caretaker, but as a friend too. After learning that there is no hope for his illness, as his muscles will atrophy and weaken even more as time goes on, Lou decides that she will be the one to change his mind and she can be the one to make him happy. She decides to follow a “bucket list” and go on adventures so that Will can live his life to the fullest, but unexpected romance blossoms.
Though quite tragic and controversial in its addressing of assisted-suicide, the movie brought everyone in the room to tears. I can account for this, as everyone was given kleenex packs, so it was inevitable. Although the movie has gotten mixed reviews as disability activists claim that the movie has a hopeless attitude towards the disabled, I found the movie to be poignant and quite humorous in spite of the tragic undertones regarding disability and assisted-suicide. Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin delivered witty dialogues in what one would say was a lovely manner that made you want to jump into the screen and go along with them on their adventures through picturesque Europe. Viewers fell in love with the leads’ love story, as it is one of sacrifice but also deep understanding.
Yes, assisted-suicide is widely debated for people with chronic, life threatening conditions, and disabilities that leave you unable to live a life you truly want to live, however for Will, the choice lies in his own happiness and willingness to deal with pain, in spite of Louisa loving him. The quote that really tugged on my heart strings was, “You’re pretty much the only thing that wakes me up in the morning.” The movie follows themes of love, sacrifice and challenges in a refreshing manner, but one that leaves you pretty much sobbing. “Me Before You” is in theaters June 3, so bring your friends, family or your significant other so they can wipe your tear stained, tomato-red face (I kid you not, that was everyone in the theater). Don’t forget the whole box of tissues, because a pack of kleenex just didn’t suffice for me.