Movie Review: Me Before You

Adapted from the tear-jerking novel by author Jojo Moyes, the romantic mix of tragedy and heartfelt comedy that is Me Before You fluttered its way into theaters at a moment that seemed both profoundly ill-fated and oddly ideal. With countless sequels, reboots, and comic-book adaptations flying into the theaters, ready to take over the summer with their glitzy appeal, the humorous blend of young-adult drama and British atmospherics within Me Before You managed to not only provide audiences with a worthy story of conflicted love in its most quirky form, but also gave us an interesting duo of stars that came off both charismatic and just the right amount of peculiar. 


When the quirky and endlessly optimistic Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) suddenly finds herself working for an elusive young banker left paralyzed from the neck down, what begins as a promising way to keep her family afloat suddenly transforms into a meaningful search to find her true self. Becoming a loving caretaker to the once-successful and charismatic Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), Clark must overcome not only the complications of caring for a physically and emotionally-broken man, but also her stirring feelings towards the one person who has truly uncovered her hidden potential. Conflicted by the attraction to a dying man who has lost his faith in the world, the optimistic Louisa employs every ounce of sporadic compassion she can muster to sway a demoralized soul to recapture the essence of his past.

Kicking off the month of June with your typical young-adult heartthrob-meets-innocent-nobody tale much like 2014's The Fault in Our Stars did two years back, the charming flick of conflicted love that we find in Me Before You employs a similar tactic, offering up two witty performances set against an underlying tone of emotional turmoil. Bringing yet another best-selling novel to the big screen, Me Before You offers an intriguing display of quirkiness and innocent passion highlighted by its two phenomenal stars. While it may still fall into the dull and cliché once it reaches its romantic peak, and undeniably depresses you by its conclusion, this worthy adaptation provided audiences with a likable cast set against a satisfying adventure in unexpected love.


While its profound story of one man's journey to rediscover his once-joyful past and one girl's path to enlightenment might be the driving force for the novel, I found the more compelling element of the film to be its odd yet captivating cast of characters. Led by Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke and Hunger Games alum Sam Claflin, the two English actors managed to keep me invested in the film, even when it lost some of its momentum as the film went on. Two actors I've only seen in a handful of roles -- Emilia Clarke in the sad excuse for a Terminator film, and Claflin in one good and one bad Hunger Games movie -- it was very interesting to see them step out of their American accents and embrace their European personas. Both having their own set of quirks and emotional backstories to see them apart, the two might not have had the world's greatest chemistry, but they were undeniably brilliant as they traded the sometimes-smart-sometimes-cliché dialogue between each other. With Clarke offering up a delightful performance as the cherry 20-something year-old working girl dressed like a 10-year-old, and Chaflin giving us a cynical yet sarcastic version of Professor X, the two leads in the film were fairly entertaining to watch, not simply for their exuberant British accents.  

The rest of the cast delivered your usual supporting characters of a young-adult novel, from the compassionate yet conspiring parent figures to the loyal best friend/sibling there to perk up the main character's dissolving demeanor. From Will Traynor's loving parents played by Janet McTeer and Charles Dance to the charming nurse to Traynor played by Steve Peacocke, the supporting cast of the film also worked to keep the mood alive and well, even when the film dived into darker themes. One of my favorite -- and most surprising -- cast members had to be the Harry Potter alum Matthew Lewis, who took on the role of the conniving boyfriend to Clarke's Louisa, offering up a humorous and borderline-a**hole performance.


Overall, while Me Before You definitely doesn't top heart-wrenching romances like Titanic or The Notebook, it did provide a satisfying plot of two conflicted characters who find unexpected surprises in the most unlikeliest of places. Comical in its all its British humor and charismatic stars, Me Before You may not be the best young-adult romance we get this year, but it was some how able to draw me in. If you're a fan of the novel, or you're simply looking for another ounce of what Fault in Our Stars gave you (teen highjinks and depressing undertones), you'll most likely enjoy this film, and not leave the theater until you've collected yourself emotionally.

I gave this film a 7 out of 10 for its enjoyable leading duo and supporting cast, its clichéd yet emotional tale of broken people finding solace in one another, and its adventurous ride of bucket lists and Downton Abbey-esque atmospherics.     


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