Though appearing as your archetypal mawkish romantic drama, with a Nicholas Sparks, Louisiana twang injected into this somewhat idle British setting, any such fears and initial apprehensions are washed away. As Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel has been brought to the big screen in an accomplished, affable manner – with Thea Sharrock at the helm of Me Before You. Boasting a cast that bring with them a host of pre-established fan-bases, with performers featuring from the likes of Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter – there will be many people watching this film who perhaps may have otherwise passed, and there are likely to be many people leaving pleasantly surprised by what they’ve witnessed.
Emilia Clarke plays Louisa, who is hired by Steven (Charles Dance) and Camilla Traynor (Janet McTeer) to be the new care worker for their son William (Sam Claflin). The latter was involved in a tragic road accident, and is paralysed from the neck down, wanting simply to be left alone and untroubled. The affluent family vie tirelessly to provide for their disenchanted son and ensure his future can be as fulfilling as they can possibly make it, but he has other plans. Unless, of course, Louisa’s earnest sense of sincerity rubs off, and gives him a purpose and reason to keep on going.
To begin with, you adopt the cynical perspective of William, unsure about this overbearing presence in his life, annoyed at the gleeful, overtly giddy Louisa, who can find the good in just about anything. However, as the narrative progresses, the audience, much like William, begin to warm to her, and suddenly that energy and enthusiasm she carries becomes contagious, and you realise how well-meaning she truly is. Naturally, as you find yourself endeared to Louisa, in turn, you feel similarly about the feature, which, though tremendously generic in its means of storytelling, has a certain charm and enjoyable, undemanding nature about it.
It also helps that William can be a bit of an arse. It’s not a pity-fest, whereby we glorify everything he says or does as though afraid to dislike somebody simply because of their disability – but that’s a key factor in why this film works, for he’s a flawed creation, and is the more human as a result. The palpable chemistry the leading pair share helps matters too, ensuring that this ‘guilty pleasure’ eventually becomes a bonafide pleasure. There’s nothing to feel guilty about.