29 of #52FilmsByWomen: Me Before You


Me Before You (2016, directed by Thea Sharrock, written by Jojo Moyes)

[No. 29 of 52 in #52FilmsByWomen]

Emilia Clarke plays Louisa ‘Lou’ Clark, a very un-Daenerys-type character who is cheerful, bubbly, dorky and naive. Without much training or experience, she gets a job as a caretaker for Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), who became disabled after a traffic accident.

The big plot point for the movie is about how Will wants to commit suicide via euthanasia, because he doesn’t want to live the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. This aspect of the movie is probably doesn’t work as well, and it seemed to have caused a stir on the internet. I might say more about this in a separate post, but within the framework of the movie and the plot, Will’s motivation for this isn’t fleshed out all that well.

The reason for this is probably due to the fact that the story is told almost completely from Lou’s perspective. So the reason we do not understand why Will wants to die is because  Lou (whose nature is endlessly positive and cheerful) doesn’t.

Will’s motivations aside, the movie is utterly captivating and charming, mostly because of Emilia Clarke’s performance. Lou’s happiness and positivity is potent and infections, and I couldn’t help but grin along when Lou gets excited about something.

It is also noteworthy that Lou’s sister Treena played by Jenna Coleman (Hi! Clara Oswald) is loving and supportive for Lou. It is so rare to see siblings that do not antagonise or hate each other in movies or TV, except maybe for Orphan Black. So in their first scene early in the movietogether assumed their characters are not related. Maybe it’s partly because my mind couldn’t process The Mother of Dragons and Clara Oswald as sisters. But Emilia Clarke is a good actor, and very soon I completely forgotten any associations with Daenerys Targeryn and became fully invested in Lou. She also shared many scenes with another Thrones veteran Charles Dance who plays Will’s father, and is almost like a more compassionate version of Tywin Lannister.

Despite the story dealing with tough emotional issues, it is also funny. Despite the controversy on the internet, the movie does depict the life of a quadriplegic character that is not stereotypical manner, or had any jokes at Will’s expense. At least, that’s as far as I can possibly tell, from the perspective of an able-bodied person.


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