On June 3 the highly anticipated film “Me Before You” hit theaters and had audiences everywhere reaching for tissues.
Based on the New York Times best selling novel by Jojo Moyes, “Me Before You” follows the trials and tribulations of 26-year-old Louisa Clark as she attempts to navigate the many relationships in her life.
Upon losing her job at a local bakery, Louisa finds herself working as a caregiver for Will Traynor, the son of a local wealthy family. Will, suffering from a spinal cord injury following a motorbike accident, is confined to a wheelchair. Though Will’s initial behavior towards Louisa is surly and off-putting, the relationship between the two blossoms and naturally they begin to fall in love.
In the film the stunning Emilia Clarke portrays Louisa. The actress, who is probably best known for her role as the fearsome Daenerys Targaryen in “Game Of Thrones,” gives an astounding performance, perfectly capturing the quirkiness of Louisa. In an interview with the New York Times, Clarke discussed the fundamental differences between her Louisa and her Targaryen.
“Lou is a badass in her own right, absolutely," Clarke told the New York Times. "There’s a beautiful arc that happens, and it isn’t dragons and killing zombies, but it’s having the courage to be brave within her world, which is stepping outside her comfort zone, realizing her potential.”
In addition to Clarke’s undeniably superb performance, there are many other talented actors in the film who should not be overlooked. Sam Claflin, who plays Will in the film, was exceptional in his role, perfectly capturing the sarcastic but enchanting character of Will. Charles Dance, who, like Clarke, also starred in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” for many seasons as Tywin Lannister, portrays the elder Mr. Traynor. Even Harry Potter fans can find joy in this film as Louisa’s boyfriend is portrayed by none other than Matthew Lewis, who is best known for his role as Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series.
While both the film and the novel have been highly praised by many, there has been some backlash from the disabled community in regards to Will’s attitude about being a quadriplegic. In the both the film and the novel, Will chooses to end his life as he is unhappy being confined to a wheelchair as he had been an extremely active person before the accident. Many feel as if the character of Will, in particular his decision to utilize assisted suicide, is giving a poor message about what it means to live with a disability.
The film could also be criticized for its less-than-satisfactory portrayal of Louisa — her individual background and plot line were shockingly left out of the film. In the novel, Will criticizes Louisa for her fear of branching out and exploring the world, but in an unforeseen twist it is revealed in the novel that Louisa had been a victim of sexual assault. The decision to remove this information from the film was extremely disappointing, as it would’ve provided audiences with a vastly important insight into Louisa as a character.
Though at first glance this film seems to mirror many of the other sappy, romantic films that have recently been in and out of theaters, “Me Before You” contains more depth than most people would think. Tackling the issues of not only love and loss, but also assisted suicide, “Me Before You” will have you laughing, crying and leaving the theater with some serious thoughts on your mind.