“You are scored on my heart Clark”
“Me Before You” is a bit of a queer fish of a movie. It never quite decides whether it wants to be a romantic weepy, a drama, or a rom-com and as such ends up rather falling between all three stools.
Emelia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”, “Terminator: Genesys”) plays Lou Clark, an ‘invisible’ girl “with potential” who is trapped – due to unemployment-led poverty – living with her parents in a provincial castle town (a picturesque Pembroke, though notably hardly a Welsh accent in earshot). Her boyfriend Patrick (“Harry Potter”’s Matthew Lewis) is a running nut that doesn’t play to her romantic needs in any way. Circumstance leads her into the job of a carer for a quadriplegic, Will Traynor (Sam Claflin, from “The Hunger Games” sequels) who also happens to be the son of the local millionaire couple (played by Charles Dance and Janet McTeer). They own the castle, a large mansion and most of the surrounding countryside too.
Will – previously a sports jock – is paralyzed from the neck down after an accident and is a frustrated and suicidal mind in a useless body. Can the quirky and vivacious Lou bring him out of his morbid shell and find him a life worth living again?
From this outline, you might think the story almost writes itself, and for most of the film it does. But the writers have a number of twists and turns in store which – depending on your sentiments – might entertain or appall.
As her first leading actress role in a non-action feature it’s a bit difficult to sum up Emilia Clarke’s performance. At face value it could be described as an advanced case of over-acting, with an extensive array of kooky looks and gurning facial expressions. (Those eyebrows! At some point we’re going to have to see her acting opposite Cara DeLevingne in a “Batman v Superman” eye-brow-off). On the other hand, she plays the part with such vivacity and charm – and notably in a manner so in keeping with the character she portrays – that it is hard not to be enchanted by her: I certainly was.
Claflin plays the brooding and resentful Traynor well and Matthew Lewis shows he is growing into a really professional jobbing actor as he enters his mid-20’s.
Also radiant (she always is… sorry to break it to the wife like this… but I am basically in love with her!!) is the ever-gorgeous Jenna Coleman (“Dr Who”, “Victoria”) in what is to date a rare outing for her onto the big screen (she previously has only had a small role in the first “Captain America” film: she really needs a breakout movie like Carey Mulligan’s “An Education”). Coleman and Clarke make a very credible pair of sisters, with the “bed” discussion scene being very touching.
Elsewhere a number of other well-known faces crop up including Brendan Coyle (“Downton Abbey”) as Lou’s father and Joanna Lumley as a wedding guest with a handy line in references.
The soundtrack by Craig (“Love Actually”) Armstrong is top notch with pleasing songs from Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons, Cloves and We The Kings.
The production quality is as professional as you would expect from a British-made movie, although the Mallorca and Paris locations are not particularly well exploited, since for a large chunk of these scenes I was convinced they hadn’t left Pinewood!
So, a bit of a mixed bag, but enjoyable nonetheless. A guilty pleasure. If you like a romantic piece of escapism this is one for a wet Sunday afternoon, provided you have a box of tissues handy.
Fad Rating: FFFf.