Me Before You Carries Much More than Romance to the Table



Love stories should come in all shapes and sizes.

I’m glad when we get one that dares to stray from the oh-so-popular, inspired-by Nicholas Sparks and The Notebook formula, trickling down for 20 years now.

Me Before You brings its share of stereotypes, yes. Scripted by Jojo Moyes from her own novel of the same name and directed by Thea Sharrock, the 110-minute, wannabe-tearjerker begins with a successful, attractive young man having all of that yanked out from under him by a devastating accident. He quite expectedly carries a grudge against the world for this, and his parents worry and plot as they manage his care.

His eventual love interest is a fish out of water from an unlikely pool, and that’s not a new take on these things, either, of course, a rich guy thrown in with the working class, and let’s see if sparks fly.

But the motives here are mighty interesting, to the say the least, with the reason behind his petulance and indifference, and an ultimate deadline hanging in the balance.

And the actors are so darn good together.

Paradise for Lou and Will?

Paradise for Lou and Will?

Emilia Clarke is superb as Lou Clark, out of her job at the cafe and needing to work to help her loving British working-class family because dad can’t find anything in their little piece of the world. And Sam Claflin is super as quadriplegic Will Traynor, offspring in the richest family of that town who can’t cope with what is compared to what used to be.

Will’s a cad to eager but confused Lou when she steps in as his caretaker, but he’s mean to the world by this point. Lou’s out to be the best she can be in everything, and that includes making his days sunnier and thus his parents — her employers — happier.

The thaw happens. Their relationship as they play it is a wonder to watch. Clarke’s Gumby face allows her to play Lou as an emotional open book, every card face up every second. Claflin’s Mount Rushmore chisel allows him to take Will down the slope of anger like a melting glacier to that first smile.

It’s smart, too, their intellectual dance as he meets her family and boyfriend and she plots ways to scheme him from that ultimate decision.

One that is a weighty matter and thorny social and moral issue in our world, indeed.

Here it’s an emotional cyclone, and the foundation of the rest of the unconventional love story.

As I sat next to my dear wife Karen at the Regal Cinemas’ big theater in Syracuse mall Shoppingtown for a Saturday matinée, I was one of just two men in a crowd of a couple dozen. But it didn’t feel like a chick flick at all. Goodness, I hate those stereotypes anyway.

Karen saved napkins from our shared small popcorn. She knows I’m a waterworks guy at the movies, as in real life. But I didn’t well over. Hey, I was into it. It’s not you, it’s me …

What’s your favorite love story movie, and why? Are you a Nicholas Sparks-inspired movie fan or not, and why? Do you cry at the movies, and if so, do you plan for it ahead of time?

25 thoughts on “Me Before You Carries Much More than Romance to the Table

  1. I don’t usually read books like this, and I’m not even sure why I did read it, but it messed me up for a couple days after I finished. Since then, I’ve read a few more Jojo Moyes novels and haven’t been disappointed in the least. I have friends who worship Nicholas Sparks, but besides The Notebook, I haven’t been able to get through any of his books. (and I only read the book after the movie made me ball like a baby. A movie better than a book? I guess it happens) As far as Me Before You, I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I love the actors they chose to play Lou and Will. Hopefully some girlfriends and I will get to the theater soon to check it out. I’m so happy your review didn’t say it was complete crap. It always makes me nervous when a favorite book is turned into a movie.


  2. I can’t begin to say how bad this film (and the book upon which it is based) treats the issue of Disability. I a m surprised you didn’t pick up on all the online protests like #MeBeforeEuthanasia. The author ( and screenwriter,) Moyes admitted to not speaking to even one disabled person in her ” research”.

    The rich guy claims he is in terrible agony: yet none is shown. Like most people admitting to suicidal ideation due to an acquired disability, the concerns are lack of autonomy and loss of ability to do things they used to.

    These things are upsetting, but hardly worthy of suicide. People with disabilities deal with this everyday: living vibrant and vital lives despite their disability.

    This is a snuff film. Played by people without a disability, with no knowledge of the real issues. Hands down the worst ( and most offensive) movie of the year.


  3. I cry at movies. And tv and commercials and sporting events… The worst scene ever for me was when I took my teenaged daughter and friends to see Titanic. When that final music came on…sobbing ,uncontrollable.(and the kids were sad as well) ☺


  4. Thanks for the wonderful review Mark…Oh, and hello! I am dying to see this, but will it be horrible if I see it alone?? lol…Who knows. 🙂


  5. My in-laws took the girls to see this movie Saturday, and it’s the first movie that ever made Moo cry. Moo has seen a lot of sad movies, but this one did her in.
    I’d rather read the book first.


    • I’m a book person first and foremost, but didn’t read this beforehand, Joey. I was glad I didn’t. Wow, that says something that it moved Moo to her first movie tears. Now that’s a personal review.


  6. yes, mg and i are both open weepers. i’ve not seen many n sparks movies, and my fav weepie is ‘love story.’ saw it a million times with my sisters –


  7. Intriguing sounding movie Mark. I do like Sparks’ plots – like Dear John – but seldom see movies in the theater. I do enjoy romances in general but can’t really pick a favorite.


  8. Great review, Mark. I’ve got lots of favorite love story movies, but the one that springs to mind, right now, is “Lone Star” by John Sayles, for some reason. I cry lots of places and I try to have tissues around, if possible.


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