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.
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?