Film Review | Me Before You – The Stupidest Thing You Will Ever Cry At

This adaptation of Jojo Moyes best-seller starts out as a cuddly 50 Shades of Grey but with a paraplegic and no riding before morphing into a hackneyed but effective weepy.

Me Before You is out in cinemas from Friday 3rd June. - HeadStuff.org
Me Before You is out in cinemas from Friday 3rd June. Source

We meet Emilia Clarke’s Lou living the life of a provincial manic pixie dream girl, dressing like Rupert the Bear and selling confused old dears pastries by lying to them. That’s not a joke. On being sacked (not for lying to the customers, mind you) she is offered a job caring for a suicidal, wealthy, paraplegic dreamboat. Despite having no qualifications and seeming too unstable to look after a potted plant she gets the job and is introduced to Will, the yuppie victim of a motorcycle accident.

The sophisticated, embittered Will proceeds to do some serious negging and generally act the bollocks towards her. Imagine Christian Grey if a slight breeze could kill him. Naturally the good hearted Lou softens him, teaching him to smile again. In turn, Will teaches the bumpkin who’s never had pesto about subtitled films and classical music.

While stylistically rote the tone is strikingly uneven. For a film where one of the main characters is actively contemplating suicide Clarke’s performance seems ripped from a much broader comedy. She turns in a clownish performance that, even in a fluffy, tragi-rom-com, jars noticeably. Instead of coming across as a likeable ingénue she seems to have something wrong with her. The few scenes where they cut the shit and just talk show that they may actually have chemistry together. This only serves to highlight how bad she is throughout most of the runtime.

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For a film about an attractive woman who dresses like a child caring for a man who cannot move his limbs there’s a refusal to acknowledge how inherently creepy this all is. The ethics of their budding romance are never questioned on this level. While we’re talking morality, director Thea Sharrock has had to defend the film from disabled groups who view Will’s suicidal impulses as insulting. It’s true that him wanting to kill himself could be viewed as a fuck you to actual, living, paraplegic people. It’s a strange moral universe we find ourselves in here.

Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones fame in Me Before You - HeadSTUFF.ORG
Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones fame in Me Before You. Source

Throughout the film’s first half it falls into ‘so bad it’s almost good’ territory. Hacky gags mix with unintentional laughs to create something glossily awful. The second half, simply by not being inept, seems like a grand tragedy by comparison. It’s as if the filmmakers set out to lull you into a melodramatic trap by having the film act like an idiot before the gut punch. Initially you may be laughing at it, not with it. By the syrupy end you may find yourself crying along, being played like a cheap fiddle. While I doubt that the movie’s Verbal Kint routine is intentional I admit to having something in my eye by the credits. You got me, Thea Sharrock. God damn it. You got me. I hate myself.

Me Before You is out in cinemas on June 3rd. Check out the trailer below.

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