You might be thinking that it's odd for me to review a romantic comedy, since the last one I reviewed didn't go so well. However, this movie had a lot more effort in its production than that last film, so let's dive right in.
We meet Louisa "Lou" Clark, a charming, yet awkward young woman who's perfectly content in her ordinary life until she loses her job at a café. Desperate for income, she takes on the job of being a social companion for Will Traynor, a young man who, through an accident, paralyzed from the neck down. Lou tries her best to joyful and helpful, but Will can be irritable to her and pretty much anyone else he encounters. Refusing to give up, Lou gives Will some interesting activities that often hilariously backfire. Her results make him softer and compassionate, while he makes her open to adventure and expanding her horizons. During these events, the two eventually fall in love with each other. However, with his current situation he feels that he's only a shell of his former self and can't live with the daily pain, so he signs up for Hospice and dies soon afterwards.
Lou is funny, awkward, and loveable. She tries her absolute best to make life easier for those around her, but this doesn't always go as well as she hopes. I love the acting choices that Emilia Clarke made with this character. Every time she's onscreen, she can make you laugh or make sympathize, since we've all had similar moments in our lives. Clarke does a great job in portraying her as a genuinely good person.
I think Sam Claflin does a great job playing Will. The film has several scenes which give the audience clear reasons why he's utterly depressed. We learn in the first five minutes of the film how he became paralyzed and later we learn more about his previous life as a thrill seeker and former Mr. Universe. In short, Will is all about living life to the fullest, so having him confined to a chair and being dependent on other people to perform basic functions is clearly frustrating and, in his mind, undignified. As I mentioned, it's not only mentally taxing, but physical too. He hides behind his pain through sarcasm and backhanded compliments, but the film does have a nice balance in that that he can open up to those with whom he's closest.
We see Will and Lou's parents, Lou's ex boyfriend, Will's therapist, Nathan, and scores of others. What I love about these characters is that none of them are forgettable. All of them had lines and actions that stood out and are unique to their individual characters. Also, this didn't have any annoying characters! I hate this trope so much in RomComs and it was nice to have one that didn't follow suit.
Books vs. Movies:
The author of the novel, Jojo Moyes, also wrote the screenplay. Personally, I think it's a great idea to have writers work on the screenplay. It ensures that their original intended thoughts are preserved. Me Before You is an excellent adaptation of the original book. The entire plot, characters, and key scenes are perfectly represented on film. Not to mention the tone of the book was captured nicely.
So which version is better?
It's hard to say. Both versions are extremely close together in pretty much everything. However, there is one scene that's missing from the movie.
In the book, Will asks Lou why she dresses in such a quirky way. She answers him by saying that she used to dress in a more "normal" way, but she had been assaulted, and since then she dressed in an odd style in order to avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention. In the movie, this is explanation is never brought up. Will asks the same question, but Lou just shrugs it off. This doesn't hurt the film in any way, but we do lose just a little of motivation and a deeper character study from Lou. So just by a bit, I give it to the book for having the better story. Still, the movie was excellent.
This is a great movie that I recommend to anyone! I highly enjoyed it. Going in, I was worried that the studio would take a book that I loved and either make it too depressing or too cheesy. Thankfully that's not the case here. The film does have a nice balance of humor and serious, when the scene calls for it. The benefit of that is you're not experiencing a complete downer and you're not laughing so much at sillier moments, that you won't take the deep stuff seriously. This film doesn't have as much advertising as it should, so do yourself a favor and check this film out!