2 out of 5 stars
Now is as perfect a time as ever to delve into the folds of an extremely controversial romantic drama. That is, if you’ve ever felt like crying over both the plot of the film and the terrible morals it tries to justify.
In 2016, a romantic drama involving a disabled man and his caretaker, titled “Me Before You” hit the box office. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re likely not alone. The main draw for movie-goers were the two headlining stars, Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. Other than that, for the average person, this film might have gone by relatively unnoticed.
I have to admit, when my 16-year-old self ventured to the theater with her sisters in tow, I was completely enraptured with both Clarke and Claflin’s performances as Louisa “Lou” Clark and Will Traynor. Their undeniable chemistry and acting had me tearing up and reaching for non-existent tissues.
I immensely enjoyed the roller-coaster of emotions they send you through, but that was to be expected since many of my favorite films tend to be on the sadder side of the spectrum like Love, Rosie or even Titanic.
So, why do I ultimately think “Me Before You” is absolutely ridiculous?
The director, Thea Sharrock, paints a story of a quirky and bubbly young lady, Louisa, and Will, a man who is quadriplegic after having gotten in a motorcycle accident.
When he was able-bodied, Will was extremely popular with a successful banking career, an expensive apartment and an attractive girlfriend. Post-injury, he finds himself unable to use the bathroom on his own and so he finds himself a recluse in his parents’ house with no surviving elements of his previous life.
Enter Louisa, who is hired as a caretaker, but quickly becomes something more as she begins to chip away at Will’s depression with her bright personality. In time, the two begin to fall in love and the world becomes a little more bearable for Will.
This plot in itself is fun and dare I say, cute? What could have possibly gone wrong from here?
Louisa eventually learns from Will’s parents that he has made a deal with them that after six months he will leave for Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal. Will makes it clear that he is unhappy with his life and plans to go through with suicide.
Louisa makes it her mission to show him the joy in life and prove to him that there is so much worth living for, but things don’t go as planned.
I still find myself baffled that more people weren’t outraged by the ending of this film, as well as its general portrayal of people with disabilities. The writers are insinuating that Louisa could not “live boldly” Will in her life; he thought he would be a burden to her and his family.
Are we supposed to be okay with touting around ideas like, “If you’re disabled, you may as well kill yourself?” I’m not fine with that. Using disabled people in a tragedy formula is growing old and increasingly disrespectful.
Don’t get me wrong, this movie isn’t all bad. In fact, it has an incredibly charming soundtrack, a talented roster of actors and actresses, beautiful visuals and just about everything you come to expect from a movie released in general theaters. If you like generic love stories and are able to ignore the damaging stereotypes within, then you might enjoy at least eighty percent of it.