Heart and Humanity
Anyone who read Jojo Moyes’ best-selling 2012 novel, Me Before You, knew what to expect in the film and waited anxiously for it to appear in the theatre. Those attending one of the first screenings got a clue when boxes of tissues – with the movie poster on the box – were passed out to moviegoers.
Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) has a spring in his step walking through the rain on the streets in England. And why shouldn’t he? He’s a wealthy banker and loves sports. He has just left the bed of his beautiful fiancée Alicia Dewar (Vanessa Kirby), whom he plans to marry.
Of course, no one ever knows what each day will bring, and Will never dreamed that morning he would be hit by a motorbike and become a paraplegic. He ends up at home with his well-off parents who can afford the best care for their only child.
Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke, Game of Throne) has a boyfriend, Patrick (Matthew Lewis), a runner who often shows more enthusiasm for that than for her. Louisa lives with a very close-knit family in an overcrowded home. When interviewed by Will’s mother to be his caretaker, Louisa is a little bewildered by the extravagant home and the questions she’s asked. It’s clear his mother, Camilla (Janet McTeer), is hoping Louisa will help change Will’s plan to go to Switzerland to be euthanized. Somewhat stunned, the young girl knows her family counts on her income and accepts the job anyway.
It’s a rocky start as Will, who has no movement of his body, is depressed and angry with the world about his new life, or lack of it. He’s not impressed with Miss Clark, but she hangs in there and ignores his rude comments such as, “Go and raid your grandma’s wardrobe or whatever it is you do when you’re not making me tea,” and in answering her question with a snarky reply, “I don’t do anything, Miss Clark. I sit.”
The perky Clark, who often shows up in silly attire, ignores Will’s ill-temper. She does small chores, feeding Will and mainly just being there, while Nathan (Stephen Peacocke), the nurse/physio, monitors the more complicated procedures Will needs.
Eventually Will has a mood change and begins to enjoy Louisa and her quirky ways. He starts calling her “Lou.” Before long their relationship becomes a romance. This is where the best part of the film begins. No longer do we see a solemn, frowning, frozen-faced Will. He laughs, he teases Lou, and she is determined to change his plan by convincing him to let her take him on trips to Paris, the beach and other places he could have taken throughout his life but never did.
Of course, this is not the first of its kind (Love Story, The Fault in Our Stars) but Moyes, who also wrote the screenplay, layers the story well with unexpected moments. English director Thea Sharrock steers this great cast with precise essentials.
Emilia Clarke definitely goes 360 degrees away from her character in Game of Thrones. It's fun to watch her slowly falling in love with Will and her devoted attention to make him want to live again.
Watching Sam Claflin move from a curmudgeon to a man falling in love is heartwarming. It’s obvious with every grin that Will adores Lou, and his words now are precious, such as, “Move closer, you smell fantastic,” and “I have become a whole new person because of you.” At a dance, Lou sits on his lap in the wheel chair as they glide around the room, and it’s clear by their actions Lou feels she has accomplished her dream to save Will.
Moviegoers will be immersed in the emotions that run rampant in this film. There will be ups and downs, so prepare to come with tissues. Even some males shed a tear at the screening I attended. But whatever ending one expects, the movie is worth seeing. It’s a huge revelation of humanity.
(Released by New Line Cinema and rated “PG-13” for thematic elements and some suggestive material.)
Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.