Me Before You

 

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Desperate for work to help support her family, a young woman agrees to care for an 

arrogant and standoffish (and rather handsome) quadriplegic.

 

Me Before You

She makes him laugh; he makes her glow: Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin
 

We were all somebody different before we met that somebody special. But the title to Jojo Moyes’ 2012 novel – and subsequent screenplay – is misleading. This is about Louisa Clark after she has met Will Traynor, a quadriplegic who, in the hands of Sam Claflin (bad metaphor, but it will have to do), is as dashing as he is disparaging. Thea Sharrock's film is a tearjerker and you get what you ask for. Inevitably, it’s a generic affair, but it has a number of accomplished touches that elevate it above the Mills & Boon norm.

 

As Ms Clark – or ‘Clark’ as Will insists on calling her – Emilia Clarke is a bolt of vitality. Some might find her a tad vexatious (think Sally Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky) and Will himself praises her “sweet smile, ridiculous clothes and silly jokes.” But her good nature and dogged resolve win through and Emilia Clarke has the stamina and conviction to pull it off. Ms Clarke really does make us believe in Ms Clark. As Will’s parents, Janet McTeer and Charles Dance make a convincing match, while Jenna Coleman also registers strongly as Louisa’s level-headed sister. The film also dares to tackle themes that lesser efforts will not have dared to broach (no spoilers here, though), giving Me Before You a definite edge.

 

Naysayers will no doubt complain about the wealth and physical perfection of this particular quadriplegic – and the commensurate pulchritude of Emilia Clarke – but, hey, this is a romantic weepie, not a social tract from Ken Loach. And it’s a good deal more plausible than Sam Claflin’s last romantic outing, Love, Rosie (2014). It also contains one of the best smooches in recent cinema memory. Besides, when one visits a masseur, one expects to be manipulated.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Brendan Coyle, Jenna Coleman, Matthew Lewis, Vanessa Kirby, Steve Peacocke, Samantha Spiro, Joanna Lumley.

 

Dir Thea Sharrock, Pro Alison Owen and Karen Rosenfelt, Screenplay Jojo Moyes, from her own novel, Ph Remi Adefarasin, Pro Des Andrew McAlpine, Ed John Wilson, Music Craig Armstrong, Costumes Jill Taylor.

 

Sunswept Entertainment/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/New Line Cinema-Warner Brothers.

110 mins. USA/UK. 2016. Rel: 3 June 2016. Cert. 12A.