Starring Emilia Clarke. Rated PG.
Me Before You has all the classic elements of a three-hanky romantic weeper. Based on the best-selling novel by Jojo Moyes—who also wrote the surprisingly brisk screenplay—it’s about a naïve young woman (Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones) hired to look after a wealthy sophisticate who's become paralyzed as the result of an accident (Sam Clafin).
The wheelchair-bound Will is a former athlete and dashing man-about-town who's both embittered and in a great deal of physical pain. He’s promised his parents six months of coping with his present life before going to Switzerland to undergo an assisted suicide.
Along comes the working class Lou, played by Clarke with the kind of sunny spunk you only find in romance novels. A certified cutie-pie, she favours brightly-coloured hair ribbons, blouses that mimic the whimsical wallpaper in a child’s nursery and striped stockings that make her look like a Raggedy Ann doll with showgirl legs.
Nevertheless, Will sees potential in his gaudy new companion. She’s a reader who quickly takes to classical music and foreign films. Will finds that he enjoys playing Professor Higgins to her Eliza Doolittle. But who’s really in control here? Lou thinks she is, figuring that—if she can draw Will out of his shell—he might forget about suicide all together.
Love blossoms between the two, of course. But director Thea Sharrock is careful to keep things as artfully restrained as they can get in this particular genre. There’s also a minimal amount of unpleasantness. We know that Will is suffering but this is mostly covered through exposition.
Of course, if this isn’t your thing, it’s easy to be uncharitable. Thankfully, the cast is genuinely appealing, and the consistently thoughtful approach is fuelled with just enough emotional excess to push things along rather smartly.