Me Before You
Directed by: Thea Sharrock
1 hour, 50 minutes
When our book club read the novel Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, the response was unanimous—it was a fantastic read. I absolutely loved the story and have become a huge fan of Moyes’ other novels (The Girl You Left Behind is another one of my favorites). When I learned that her bestselling book would be turned into a film, I marked my calendar and couldn’t wait to hit the theater—especially since Moyes herself wrote the screenplay.
Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) is a sunny small town English girl who happily uses her nurturing skills to dote on clients at the quaint local tea shop. When the shop closes, Lou feels the pressure. Her whole family depends on her income since her father has lost his job. Having limited options, Lou accepts a job to be a companion to Will Traynor, a quadriplegic man. The job isn’t as easy as she would like because Will (Sam Claflin—better known as Finnick Odair from the Hunger Games) is less than thrilled to be bombarded by Lou’s constantly chipper demeanor. It turns out that Will is paralyzed both physically and emotionally from his accident. Once a successful businessman who lived his active lifestyle to the fullest, he now lives a solitary life in his family’s guest house in constant pain. Lou works her charms on the sullen Will, and eventually his icy demeanor begins to melt. The cultured and wealthy Will begins to enjoy exposing naive and sheltered Lou to the world outside their small yet stunning English town (did I mention that the Traynors own the town castle?). Lou and Will’s connection quickly deepens, much to the chagrin of Lou’s boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis who has slimmed down from his Neville Longbottom days in the Harry Potter films). Can Lou find love and happiness with Will? Is there a chance that they can build a life together despite the odds? The story does have a surprising complication to it that I don’t want to spoil, but it adds a whole new layer of intensity to the plot.
Emilia Clarke is perfectly cast as the effervescent Lou—which was such a surprise as I am used to seeing her portray the no-nonsense Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons from the hit series Game of Thrones. Clarke is delightful as lovely Lou and she may single-handedly be the best advertisement for full eyebrows since Brooke Shields in the ’80s. If you are a GOT fan, you will also recognize that Will’s father is played by Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance).
While I definitely enjoyed the film, reading the book first improved the experience. The screenplay does not fully delve into the backstories of the characters, and without reading the book, I wouldn’t have had such a rich understanding of their motivations. Because I already knew and loved Lou and Will, I was able to go along with the story better and root for them from the beginning. I imagine it must be tricky for a novelist to go from the written word where every thought and emotion can be thoroughly explained to a visual medium where you have to show and not tell the audience what the characters feel.