Monday, July 18, 2016

Me Before You

* spoilers *

Louisa "Lou" Clark has been working in the same cafe for years and loves it. She likes fashion and helping people, but doesn't really aspire to go to school or do anything momentous. When the cafe suddenly fires her, she's devastated. Her family depends on her paycheck since her mother was laid off and her father hasn't been able to get a job for months. After working job after job at a temp agency, they refer her to a job that keeps opening: being a caregiver for Will Traynor, a rich paraplegic good at alienating everyone around him. Can Louisa keep this job and support her family or will she allow Will to chase her away?

Me Before You isn't the typical movie I would watch. I'm more partial to horror and fantasy films over tearjerky romances, but this one was different than the usual fare. The characters are flawed but enjoyable to watch. Emilia Clarke is charming as Lou, wearing loud, colorful clothing and adorable shoes. She embraces the little things in her life like cute (others would say childish) fashions and helping those around her. Despite her kindhearted nature, she doesn't let Will push her around and isn't afraid to stand up to him. I loved her enthusiasm and excitement. Will is much the opposite. He makes tasteless jokes and tries as hard as possible to make everyone around him uncomfortable. His life before his accident was full of adventure and extreme sports, but now it's full of constant pain and the realization that he can't have that life anymore. Lou and Will predictably become friends and something more.

Their relationship starts with simple conversations and getting to know each other. Lou discovers early that Will wants to kill himself through assisted suicide and makes it her goal to make life so awesome he won't want to die anymore. So she takes him on a number of excursions that she's never done before and wants his company. It doesn't all go well as Will's health is fragile and she doesn't do the necessary study to be the caregiver of someone with his health. He has a nurse, but the nurse isn't there 24/7.  Her boyfriend is also an obstacle. Patrick is obsessed with fitness (which Lou has no interest in) and doesn't seem to have any emotional or real attachment to her at all. Matthew Lewis' talent is criminally wasted on this flat, cartoonish character, but he provides the only person who thinks Lou shouldn't care for or be with Will.

After they go on a big romantic trip to Mauritius and finally confess their love for each other, Will confesses his plan to kill himself and wants her to be there with him. Lou is devastated and doesn't talk to him the whole trip. At home, she agonizes over the decision to be there for him and eventually does. The typical Happily Ever After ending would be that Will loves Lou so much that he doesn't want to die anymore. Unfortunately, it's not very realistic since he's in constant pain every day and just isn't happy. He can't be the person he was and this life isn't enough for him. This ending has come under fire from advocates saying this fictional character's decision should somehow apply to all disabled people. It's perfectly possible to adapt to being disabled, but with Will's character development, it would have been a cheap, hollow, cliche ending. It also puts assisted suicide in the forefront of the media and gets people to talk about it.

I cried for about the last half hour of the film, but it was a beautiful story of two people changing each other's lives for the better. Lou sees more of the world and gets some direction to her life and Will got to enjoy his last months of life. It's cliche in places, but charming, sad, and sweet. I understand people's complaints about it, but I think it's a fitting end to the story. I wish they were a little more realistic about his actual death. If you see one romantic comedy/tragedy this year, you should watch this one.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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