Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Jenna Coleman
Director: Thea Sharrock
Running Time: 110 mins
Me Before You is a British film about a young woman who takes up a job as a carer for the paralysed son of a rich family. Despite a rocky start to their relationship, the two develop a strong bond over the course of six months.
To be honest, I went into this film expecting a wannabe version of The Notebook that would frustrate me with cheesy and cringeworthy characters and romance. And, at least for the first half hour, that’s exactly what I got, however the great thing about Me Before You is that it gets a hell of a lot better with every scene, ending up as a very enjoyable, if not generic, romantic drama.
However, before I get into the best parts of this film, I’m going to start with the first act, roughly half an hour wrought with problems that I expected to continue on through the whole movie. First off, this film is a textbook example of a bad first impression, in the form of Louisa, played by Emilia Clarke. With the benefit of hindsight and her character arc, I can see that Clarke’s performance at the beginning wasn’t her own bad acting, but rather a symptom of simply poor writing and directing.
As the film begins, Louisa is presented as a nice but pretty clumsy and dim young woman, who lucks into a job caring for the rich Will Traynor. However, despite all the smiles and brightly-coloured outfits, her ridiculous luck in the first act meant that she just wasn’t a particularly lovable character for me, leaving me continually frustrated for the best part of half an hour.
That, combined with all the inevitably cheesy and insanely generic chick flick tropes, meant that I had no hope going into the second act of the film. However, as the story develops, we get some great character development for both the leads, and, thanks to Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin’s excellent chemistry, the film becomes very charming, pleasant and simply enjoyable.
I’m not going to ignore the fact that the story follows an very formulaic route from start to finish, but what I really enjoyed about the film was watching Louisa and Will’s relationship develop, simply because the two lead actors worked so well together, and gave very convincing performances that, especially in the case of Emilia Clarke, got less and less cringeworthy as the film moved along.
Put simply, I eventually came round to really enjoy Me Before You. Despite an awful start, the film’s pleasant and positive atmosphere, combined with Clarke and Claflin’s fantastic chemistry, had me smiling and enjoying myself by the end. It’s by no means the emotional rollercoaster of a love story it aims to be, but as a simply enjoyable and pleasant watch, Me Before You does the job, and that’s why it gets a 7.3 from me.