A chick flick with an outrageously bizarre ending
Warning: This review contains spoilers. Skip to the summary after the last paragraph if you intend to watch the film.
Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke stars as Louisa Clark, a cheerful middle class girl who's just lost her job and is somewhat picky about getting a new one despite her family's currently poor financial situation, until she miraculously gets a unique job that requires no qualification, nor does she need to do much — a caretaker for a very wealthy and good-looking disabled man named Will Traynor (Sam Claflin from The Hunger Games film series). Due to how miserable and socially reluctant he is, she gets to sit around all day until she decides to plan for activities (all expense paid by his family) for him to find happiness in life again in hopes to cancel his plan of ending his own life.
Directed by feature film debutant Thea Sharrock, Me Before You is a romance film, so of course, it goes without saying, the main characters fall in love. However, from the rather poor character and relationship development of the film without much of an emotional attachment, it seems as though Louisa falls in love with Will mostly due to his wealth. Sure, I can sort of understand why Will would fall for Louisa — she's cute, innocent, cheerful all the time and he feels useful as he gets to help her as well. But take away Will's wealth, looks and job opportunities, I don't see how Louisa would've fallen for him. Not to mention about how she'd prioritise Will over her current boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis) who's portrayed as a stereotypical fitness junkie, and she never felt bad about it. Come on, even Taiwanese idol dramas are better than this.
Will's practically Richie Rich, and yet there isn't even any fun in the movie. Louisa organises some of the least creative activities in her "attempt" to make him believe his life is worth living — watching horse races, going to the beach and going for a seemingly cheap concerto of Mozart's music. Or perhaps that's the evil Queen of Dragon's plan all along — to make him think that she's trying. There's a scene that shows her studying about sports, but after that, there isn't any scene of them actually doing anything sport-related. Unless the scene is only to imply that Louisa is trying to find out if it's possible for him to play any kind of physical sport at all. The narrative of the film could've been better.
Despite all Louisa's efforts, the story still ends "sadly" with Will having his life ended peacefully with his family and Louisa by his side. Louisa is inherited with some of his wealth and lives happily ever after — who wouldn't? Will is disabled from neck down, but I was confused on whether or not his penis could still work (there are dialogues suggesting that he could still get aroused but there isn't any love scene, not even before he dies), so she doesn't even need to have sex with him. With that said, Louisa is probably the most successful gold digger in film history. Well done, Breaker of Chains, he is truly freed and you've become a queen.
Thanks to the charming and good-looking actors, it's difficult not to give in to their jokes and sentiments a little bit but it doesn't prevent the film from failing to be a genuine romantic, and its serious subject of committing suicide isn't well addressed. Maybe the point of the story is to respect and support your loved ones' decisions no matter how difficult it is, but some could also easily view it as an encouragement for disabled people to kill themselves (even if they're rich, beautiful and very loved) instead of being inspired to find courage and purpose to live on and fight the struggle with hopes alive. The film had potential to be thought-provoking and debate-triggering on the sensitive subject, but that went out the window when it's decided to spend more time on the cheesy chick flick approach.
As the script was written by Jojo Moyes herself, the author of the novel that this film is based on, it makes harder to give the original source the benefit of the doubt. If there's anything decent that can be learnt from this film, it's the rushed and unnecessary opening where it depicts how Will gets into an accident which caused his disability — talking on the phone in the rain while crossing roads without looking. Will's his name but he has no will to live. Will's a disgraceful character. Don't be like Will.
Malaysian censorship: It's weird. Some kissing scenes are cut while some aren't.
Second opinion: Even my girlfriend, who's a fan of chick flicks and Sam Claflin, didn't really like the movie either and felt that the romance is forced and the humour is off.
Verdict: Thanks to the charming actors, this terrible chick flick isn't too unbearable.
Rating: 2 / 5
Based on: "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes
Genre: Romance comedy drama
Running Time: 110 minutes
Director: Thea Sharrock
Screenwriter: Jojo Moyes
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Jenna Coleman, Charles Dance, Matthew Lewis
Malaysia Release Date: 2 June 2016
Local Distributor: Warner Bros Pictures Malaysia
Production: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, New Line Cinema, Sunswept Entertainment
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