ME BEFORE YOU
Louisa "Lou" Clark (Emilia Clarke) lives in a quaint town in the English countryside. With no clear direction in her life, the quirky and creative 26-year-old goes from one job to the next in order to help her tight-knit family make ends meet. Her normally cheery outlook is put to the test, however, when she faces her newest career challenge. Taking a job at the local "castle," she becomes caregiver and companion to Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), a wealthy young banker who became wheelchair bound in an accident two years prior, and whose whole world changed dramatically in the blink of an eye.
Review by Louise Keller:
From tears to laughter, Me Before You is a wonderful weepie that makes you glad you took the trip. It's a bit like The Intouchables with more romance and less cred. Novelist Jojo Moyes has adapted her novel with finesse and elegance, but it is the casting of the enchanting Emilia Clarke that elevates the film into a real charmer. Both leads are excellent and it is the dynamic between Clarke and Sam Claflin that gives the story the pathos it needs. With its themes of life and death, director Thea Sharrock handles the tone of this melodrama beautifully, ensuring the characterisations of the central characters are intact. A chick flick perhaps - certainly women may open their hearts more readily to the elements and the predictable path of the storyline.
Lou Clark (Clarke) has a heart as big as the castle Will Traynor (Claflin) lives in. They are opposites - her working class background at odds with his privileged life. It is easy to fall in love with Lou, the natural, bubbly girl who chats without taking a breath and wears outlandish clothes: polka dots, bouffy skirts, coloured tights and shoes that might have been dreamed up in the Wizard of Oz. The premise of how Lou is hired is perhaps the weakest thing about the story. Unlike The Intouchables, in which Omar Sy's carer is required to do the heavy lifting for his quadriplegic employer, here, Lou is required to 'cheer up' the patient, who is unable to come to terms with his plight. Lou's job interview is predictably amusing as is the way she constantly puts her foot in her mouth. Aussie Home and Away star Stephen Peacocke works well as Will's home nurse Nathan.
The way Lou manages to make Will laugh - as he introduces her to subtitled movies, pesto sauce and Mozart - is delightful and although we can see where the story is heading, it is how it is done that makes us care. Janet McTeer and Charles Dance are fine as Will's caring parents, while Lou's down to earth family ground the film with their pragmatic approach to everything. Matthew Lewis as Patrick, Lou's trainer boyfriend is a tad too unsuitable, but the situation brings some chuckles - especially as the relationship between Lou and Will develops. Watch for the scene when Will comes over for Lou's birthday dinner; the handing out of gifts is hilarious. Joanne Lumley makes a welcome cameo.
There is a kiss under a tropical thunderstorm, laughter on the dance floor, dreams of Paris and tears when love is not enough. Take a tissue - you will surely need it.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Once upon a time not long ago, a rich and handsome young bachelor who lived in a splendid castle in a bucolic English village had a terrible accident and became a quadriplegic ... but along came a pretty young village girl to get a job as his carer ... fairy tale stuff, yes, but with several redeeming features as well as some darned flaws.
But first, we should dispel the notion that this is some English wannabe remake of The Intouchables, in which a rich bachelor who lived in a splendid home had a terrible accident ... and along came a street smart black dude to get a job as his carer. The story trajectories are vastly different, the characters and relationships are vastly different and the resolution is vastly different. The Intouchables is based on a true story, and this is where Me Before You displays its weaknesses; it's a fiction whose conceits are inauthentic to some degree.
On the other hand, Emilia Clarke is such an effervescent bomb of sweetness and joy that she catapults us through the entire first three quarters of the film with a smile and a cheer. Her Lou brings a freshness and an earthiness (and the most expressive eyebrows on screen) to the mournful castle where the young Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) sits rigidly in his wheelchair, his spirit broken, his loving parents (Janet McTeer, Charles Dance) sober and mournful.
She jokes and bobs about in her brightly coloured shoes and dresses as any would-be young designer might if stuck in Bucolic Village. She wakes him out of his stupor, while William's physical carer, Nathan, nicely played with casual Australian care by Australian actor Stephen Peacocke, looks on in admiration.
The bubbling romance under the surface is complicated by the presence of Lou's long time boyfriend, fitness freak Patrick (Matthew Lewis). Will's romance, glimpsed at the start of the film, ends with the wedding of his ex and his best friend ... all very awkward, but it gives us a wedding scene where Lou sits in William's wheelchaired lap on the dance floor. We hope that things work out for this odd couple, and we enjoy most of the time we spend with them.
The film's cinematic cheats mount up and its lack of grounding in a reality we could grasp all combine to cheat us of a suitably satisfying resolution, the big bang of a story that had captured our hearts and kept it.
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ME BEFORE YOU (PG)
CAST: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer, Vanessa Kirby, Gabrielle Downey, Jenna Coleman, Charles Dance, Stephen Peacocke, Ben Lloyd-Hughes
PRODUCER: Alison Owen, Karen Rosenfelt
DIRECTOR: Thea Sharrock
SCRIPT: Jojo Moyes (novel by Moyes)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Remi Adefarasin
EDITOR: John Wilson
MUSIC: Craig Armstrong
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew McAlpine
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 16, 2016