I heard about Me Before You from my friend who thinks the romantic moments in the movie are “right up your alley.” I’m glad my friend thinks I am the romantic type instead of cold-hearted, but the most touching moments of the movie for me, have nothing to do with the love story but the ones in the background. I watched this movie while on a 2-hour flight, and my eyes were red by the time we landed.
There are only two areas on which I would limit my review: character and themes.
(Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, then stop reading.)
I find the character of Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) too nice, meaning not very credible. She is too likable. The audience are meant to like her, and I did like her and if she were a real person, I’d wish her infinite happiness. But a part of me is conscious of the manner in which her character is so contrived as to make viewers instantly like her. So, that’s one of the few things that didn’t impress me.
Her boyfriend, Patrick, is just as flat: self-absorbed to the end. There is nothing about the boyfriend that will make us like him even just a little bit. As a minor character, he serves a foil to the thoughtful character of Will.
The parents of Louisa and those of Will (Sam Claflin) on the other hand, though minor characters seem more real than the previous two mentioned.
As one of the two main characters, Will Traynor is fully developed as a character: from a fun-loving, adventurous, successful young man to an unhappy, helpless, hopeless quadriplegic, who finds a reason to smile in Clarke’s quirkiness.
As people we swing between the selfishness/selflessness pendulum. Louisa selflessly decided to keep a job in her hometown to help her parents. But later she selfishly asked Will to forego his plan to end his life in Switzerland, telling him confidently (to me, it’s more like overconfidently) that she could make her happy.
People may not view her offer as selfishness especially when she is willing to take care of him, but I do. She’s thinking of her own happiness, not his pain, not his daily struggle. I believe no one outside ourselves can truly make us happy or comfort us in our deepest sorrows. Sure, there are those who can make us smile for a while, but at the end of the day we deal with our own thoughts and feelings.
When told that it’s Will’s choice to end his life in Dignitas in Switzerland, Mrs. Clark says, “Some choices you don’t get to make. He [Will] is not in his right mind.” But Will is in his right mind; he made a choice after careful thought. He knows he’s never going to get better. He is in pain every single day. He cannot do anything by himself.
While I admire people with disability who are optimistic about life and fight to live despite all the pain and difficulties that come with it, I also respect those who choose to leave this world and end the pain that they have to bear daily, and no longer see how much those who love them suffer as much as they do in caring for them.
Louisa is confident that she’ll never regret being with Will and taking care of him, but Will is more realistic and says, “You don’t know that.” It is not easy to care for someone who is in terrible pain and who is never going to get better because they themselves do not find it the least bit easy to live on a daily basis.
Will Traynor’s parents at first don’t want to let him go. He is their son. Their only child. The natural cycle is for children to bury their parents, not the parents burying their child. But in the end they have to give in to his wish and let him die, with them by his side. That takes a lot of courage. This is the most touching moment in the movie for me –the parents being there for their son.
As a mother, I almost feel physical pain when I see my son in pain. When he cries because he’s hurt, it’s painful to watch. So I can only imagine how painful it must be for parents to watch their son/daughter in pain on a daily basis, and worse, to watch him die.
Me Before You is a romantic drama, and romantic souls will like this movie. However, the romance part didn’t move me at all. It’s the idea of having the right to end one’s life and parental love that made me think.
Have a relaxing weekend!
P.S. One other thing I like about this movie is the soundtrack. I especially love Imagine Dragon’s “Not Today.” Click here for a link to the video.