Every Summer movie season has that young-adult-esque, go-to, romantic tearjerker. Over the years, we've seen About Time, Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fault in Our Stars and, now, 2016 adds the film adaptation of Jojo Moyes' bestselling tear-jerking novel Me Before You.

The film opens by showing us the eccentric and affluent living Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), running around, smiling, going about his day-to-day life before getting hit by a motorcycle. Skip ahead some time and we're introduced to the quirky, optimistic Lou Clarke (Emilia Clarke) working in a café. However, when she is let go from the job, she sets out finding employment in order to continue providing for her family and reluctantly takes the only job she can: being a caretaker for the aforementioned, now paralysed from the neck down, Will. Whilst he is very distant and hostile at first, wishing to be left alone, Louisa's warm infectious nature soon begins to rub off on the now reserved and lost Will and the pair begin to form a sweet, tender relationship.

This film is driven by its characters so can only be as good as they are and, thankfully, Jojo Moyes' screenplay - she also wrote the novel on which this adaptation is based - has created such rich, likable characters in Will and Louisa - most especially the latter. The characters all feel genuine and have been so well-written and so superbly realised in the screenplay; Moyes adds nuance and personality to both Traynor and Clarke. You can't help but be infected by the latter's contagious energy and heart. Like Will himself, the audience slowly grows to love Louisa's big, lovable heart as he does too and she's a charming character that will quickly win you over and have you smiling. As for Traynor, his character is a polar opposite from Louisa's affable, chatty personality yet we can't help but love his charismatic wit and sarcasm too. Yet, we empathise for Will for his heart and charm and not out of pity which is a testament to the script for having written such strong characters. We root for all the characters and everyone is so genuine and likable, easy to connect with and empathise for.

It's also a testament to the remarkable performances which liven up Moyes' characters. Janet McTeer and Charles Dance give solid turns as Will's parents, Camilla and Stephen; Matthew Lewis is a particular highlight as fitness freak Pat, so clumsily charming and likable - taking the belly shares of the film's humour and Stephen Peacocke is also good. All the performances are fine in this. However, the film rests on the shoulders of Clarke and Claflin and the chemistry between the pair and both are magnificent in their respective roles. Clarke brings a real warmth and energy to the role, completely different from her role as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, and Claflin is so believable and gripping as Will, so lost and broken. There is veritable chemistry between the two too and they make a stellar pairing that demand your attention. You believe their tender relationship and root for them to get together and, ultimately, are left heartbroken by the bittersweet finale.
What director Thea Sharrock does well is balance the various conflicts and opposites well. The contrast between the irrational, irritable and arrogant Traynor and the affable, kind-hearted Louisa is what makes their relationship so beautiful - showing that anyone and everyone can fall for another and that anyone and everyone can change too, for better or for worst, in this case, the former. Sharrock also does a fine job of balancing tones and keeping things upbeat and quirky and fun - the film has good some humour on occasion - but also keeping things grounded and not losing the emotional and dramatic weight and integrity of the film either.

Where Me Before You slips up though is its laziness in telling it story, with Moyes and Sharrock opting for a more conventional, formulaic and very played out approach. The film will tug at the heartstrings but never really hit you in the feels like it could, or even should, as some other films in this genre do - the word "tearjerker" is often tossed around and whilst it may be applicable for this film at times, it's not quite the picture to leave you in tears. Also, despite some fairly grounded characters and a nuance of authenticity, you can't help but feel that this film is a little too idealistic and contrived, despite its best intentions - especially as we approach the finale; disregarding consequence and reality altogether. The film is competent and enjoyable enough for what its worth but, at the same time, you can't help but feel as though there are other films out there which tell a similar story better and far more effectively.

VERDICT:
Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke make a stellar pairing in Me Before You: a sweet, endearing tearjerker that is tender and heartfelt, if all a little too conventional and contrived.

About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

Related Posts

0 comments