By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review comes in the form of one of the biggest romantic comedies this year. Earlier this month, Me Before You had its summer release.
Me Before You stars two big British stars in the making. The Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin is the leading male with Game of Thrones’ star Emilia Clarke his leading lady.
I’m not a mad fan of rom-coms, but the intriguing narrative and my admiration of the protagonists lured me in…
Two years after Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) is involved in a motorcycle accident, he’s left paralysed and in need of a new carer. After treating the previous four poorly due to not accepting his condition, his fifth carer; Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke), is the small-town girl who strikes up an unlikely bond with Will.
Me Before You follows the standard rom-com process until the final act. We have the meeting of the lovers, their passion blossoms, then they hit a bump in the road, and then usually the loved-up pair get back together. In this case, the climax is very different but I don’t want to spoil it and say what happens. But the first hour is just as tame as all the rest that have gone before.
Sadly, the two starring protagonists can barely save the film too. I’m a huge fan of both Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin but I’m not sure this is a great addition to their resumes. Emilia is far too smiley. It is like she only has two emotions. When the darker scenes occur, she shows why she is a great up and coming actress, but when they pass, she just beams from ear to ear; it becomes annoying and unnatural.
Claflin is also slightly peeving. He is arrogant, selfish and rude. It takes a long while for the audience to like him and I think that’s a big reason it is difficult to settle into the narrative. I can’t fathom why Lou stands for any of Will’s behaviour, it’s only the last half an hour where we see his lighter side.
The acting department does have one gem though in Will’s mum (Janet McTeer). She is fantastic in her role. She wants nothing but the best for her son and she is clearly still reeling from what has happened to him. I would like to have seen her with more screen time. Even better than Janet’s acting though? Chatty and care-free Lou’s fashion sense. She has the wardrobe of a cartoon character and no colours are out of bounds. You simply wait for what styles come next.
There are a few negatives though that are really difficult to shake off. Firstly, the overall character of Will. He’s rich and money has never been an issue but because of this, there seems to be a sense of condescension towards the disabled and the not so fortunate in terms of finance. Will’s character is so dissatisfied with his life that it kind of conveys that even with loads of money and a great support network, life still isn’t worth living – it doesn’t give out a great message.
The second negative is how the narrative doesn’t delve deeper into side-plots. We learn very little about Lou’s character. Her family are cash-strapped and her boyfriend (Matthew Lewis, Harry Potter fame) is clearly a moron, but neither are explored. Even with the disability of Will, we very rarely see any hard-hitting sequences and I feel it doesn’t take on any of the core questions the narrative raises. Me Before You chooses to be a ‘romantic sob-story’ instead.
On the plus side, the film is shot beautifully, the close-ups of the characters’ faces are great and the picture-esque landscapes are welcomed, but it’s just not quite enough. The ending is undeniably touching but it still feels a bit flat, largely due to Will’s personality. Me Before You is an easy watch, just not a great one.
Cineroom’s Rating: 2 Stars
Me Before You is still showing in selected cinemas nationwide – certificate 12A