Upon the release of the ‘Me Before You’ trailer, the internet became hooked. Me Before You was deemed the “heartbreaker of the year” and the trailer went viral. However, if you’re looking for a tear jerker, you might have better luck re-watching the trailer over and over and over again.
The premise of Me Before You is simple. Lou (Emilia Clarke) loses her job as a café worker when the coffee shop closes down. It is shown early on that Lou is loved by all, and the ladies who had come through the shop adored her. Needing a job desperately to help her family pay the bills, Lou is assigned a job as a personal carer for the Traynor family. Awkward introductions ensue, and the film progresses on to the tortured love story it has been billed as. Will Traynor who was left paralysed in a road accident has promised his parents 6 more months of his life before he goes to Sweden for euthanasia – to finally end his suffering. Upon discovering Will’s plan, Lou sets out to undertake a series of activities to change Will’s mind.
The problem of the film is perhaps the simplicity of the plot. Because of timing issues the director of the film Thea Sharrock has left out numerous plot points from the film which would’ve worked well in progressing the story, and leaving film-goers to connect further with the film. However the omission of these points leaves the viewers confused to why Lou feels so connected to a small town and has no plans to stop living with her parents, and why she just doesn’t want to leave. It’s all rather confusing and not touched on deeply.
The film also fails to connect the pain that Will is experiencing to the audience. Me Before You is a case of tell and don’t show. The viewers are often told of the pain and suffering that Will is experiencing but never shown any cases of it in the film. We are given brief glimpses into Will’s past but never truly shown why Will believes he has to end his life. The largest indicator of Will’s pain is in large shown by his nurse, Nathan (played by Stephen Peacocke), who is the character on screen often furthering the plot and explaining the amount of pain Will is going through. Even then the film still relies too heavily on the viewer’s imagination rather than displaying it on screen.
Although both strong actors, Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin did not lay out their strongest performances on screen. Clarke’s character of Lou comes off at points in the film as incredibly one dimensional. Lou is either smiling or frowning – there is often nothing else too it. Sam Claflin hands Will the same fate in Me Before You. Will has gone through a tragic accident and should have a million different decisions and emotions going through his head, but there only seems to be room for an issue at a time in the film. Even the relationship falls flat in the film – Lou and Will go very suddenly from hating each other to loving each other. There is not much progression in the film of why the two now get along, and the viewers are rather left to assume the sort of feelings they now have for each other.
Although I could hear some sniffles from people around me, Me Before You failed to bring any tears to my eyes. The only time I got slightly emotional was when Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Photograph’ came on in the background (Although I have cried twice seeing this song played live, so I’m going to credit the song with forcing those emotions out of me). Whether it was a scripting issue, or the film-makers just believed the acting of Clarke and Claflin would carry the film – the emotions in the film just fell flat.
In fact, perhaps the film is summed up well with the one sentence my friend said to me as we trudged our way out of the cinema, “I thought it would be better”.