HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Me Before You
HTS Overall Score:75
It’s been a while since I’ve been this conflicted over a movie. On one hand “Me Before You” is that sweet romance story that has an element of harsh reality to it that keeps it fresh and invigorating. On the other hand I noticed a rather selfish underpinning to the movie that effectively tries to ascribe to the philosophy that because one is not the same as they once were, they deserve to end it all. That little sentence right there gives away pieces of the film, but it’s something that was pretty heavily telegraphed from the very first 20 minutes of the movie. I’m told that the novel penned by Jojo Meyers was very successful, and that she personally wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation as well, but once more. I’ve heavily conflicted on the message given. There are elements of beauty and harsh realism blended together into an inspiring story, but is given an ending that makes one feel hollow and slightly uncomfortable by the time the ending credits roll.
Louisa Clark (dubbed Lou throughout the film) is a blue collar English girl who has just lost the only job she’s ever had, and in the worst of times. Her father is out of work and at the moment only she and her sister Alicia (Vanessa Kirty) are making any sort of income to keep the family afloat. Taking a job as an in house care specialist, Lou coms face to face with something she has never had to experience before. A man who has completely given up on life. Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) was rich playboy who had it all. He was head of his firm and had a leggy blonde as a girlfriend, only to lose it all when he was struck by a motorcycle (ironic, a character in a movie being hit BY a motorcycle instead of ON said motorcycle. Kind of the opposite chain of events our mothers try to beat into our heads when we say we’re buying a bike) and turned into a quadriplegic. Bitter, angry at the world, Will doesn’t have any desire to deal with Lou in any way shape or form. However, Lou is a quirky little thing, with her oddball clothes and simplistic view on the world.
Finding out about Will’s desire to go to Switzerland where Euthanasia is legal, Lou throws her heart and soul into giving the young man a will to live. Winning over Will with her charm, Lou and Will form a strange bond that slowly and inexorably draws them closer and closer together. However, that storm cloud of Switzerland still hands over their heads, as the date draws closer and closer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=78178[/img]I can’t really go on without spoiling the end of the movie, so I will warn you that if you choose to read there WILL be spoilers ahead. Although, the ending of the film is pretty self-evident from the first half an hour of watching, so I don’t feel too sorry. I’m terribly conflicted on my enjoyment level of “Me Before You”. I really REALLY liked portions of it, and others that made me get frustrated and angry. The relationship between Lou and Will builds up very competently, and their much anticipated romance sparks in just the right spot, tugging at the proverbial heart strings like a concerto master. Emilia Clarke ADORABLE as Lou. In fact she was the single best part of the entire film as that squinty smile she always does can just light up the darkest of rooms. I’ve never been a fan of her in the new “Terminator: Genesis” film, or even in “Game of Thrones”, but the British actress simply nails the role of Lou. She brings a warmth and kindness to the role and integrates it into a girl that is VERY obviously outside of her normal depth. The comradery she shares with Will is palpable and very comfortable.
Sam Claflin likewise is just as comfortable in the role of Will as one could expect. He plays the slightly aristocratic young man to a T, bringing forth a well of kindness in his own right, intermingled with some very understandable pain and agony that living a life confined to a wheelchair brings. The rest of the cast are essentially background characters, and while they all do a solid job (especially Mathew Lewis as Lou’s slightly daft fitness nut boyfriend), they are essentially filler for the real two leads to take over the screen.
Here is where the spoilers come into play. I did say I was conflicted about the film, and here is why. Sam is confined to a wheelchair and lives with unimaginable pain and conflict in his day to day struggles. However, I feel as if Jojo Meyers approach to the situation is very insulting to people who have to live with terrible disabilities. Will is basically of the mindset that because he cannot live the way he has lived his entire life that life is just NOT worth living. Having dealt with chronic health issues that have sent me to the hospital multiple times and left in chronic pain for the rest of my life. Or having relatives and friends who are paralyzed, or live with missing limbs due to wartime injuries, or the like and this fatalistic approach to life (or death) is NOT prevalent in their lives. The movie gives the impression that because of his disability there simply is no hope in life. No reason to even live, thus you should just end it. Will is a RICH person who has EVERYTHING taken care of for him, yet he cannot seem to live with knowing that he can’t ever be the man he was. Now here’s where I’m also conflicted. I UNDERSTAND his desires. I truly do. Having been at that tipping point at one time in my life or another I understand how living with excruciating pain and the lack of one’s limbs would be incredibly tiring. The desire to end it all is powerfully strong at that point, and I truly TRULY understand that mindset that brings one to that decision in life. As I said, conflicted.
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some suggestive material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=78186[/img]The 2.39:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray is simply magnificent to behold, with rich whites that just feel as if you powerfully brilliant at times, without going into the blooming range. The film isn’t a period piece, but the brilliant golds and blues and shimmering whites almost make you feel like it is. Color saturation is incredibly well done, with Lou’s gaudy sweaters and stockings and other quirky apparel popping out of the screen at every turn, while fine detail is exquisite. Intimate facial details and clothing all show every string, every crease on the face, and every bit of stubble on Sam Claflin’s jawline with perfect ease. Black levels are deep and inky, without showing any major artifacting besides a little crush during the wedding dance scene and a few seconds where I swore I noticed some macroblocking.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=78194[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track for “Me Before You” is a drama track, first and foremost, and there are certain expectations and limitations that go along with the genre. Vocals are crisp and clear, locked up front in the center channel and hold no flaws or limitations of any kind. Even though I sometimes have problems with the English accents, I had zero problems hearing anyone at all during the hour and fifty minute film. Surrounds get a mild workout, but a workout nonetheless. The sounds of the two at a woodwinds concerto liven up the party quite a bit, as well as the pounding sound of horse’s hooves when they go out to the race tracks. Lfe is tight and clean, but mainly relegated to background support for the melodic score, but does show some force in the above mentioned surround intensive scenes.
• Me Before You: From Page to Screen
• Deleted Scenes
“Me Before You” is what another person once described to me as “sob ”. Meaning its entire goal is to get you rubbing your eyes with a hanky by the end of the film as you uncontrollably sob into it. I have to say that “Me Before You” certainly has that effect on people, and while it is not a perfect film, it has some standout performances from the leads that make it much more enjoyable than it should have been. The movie is not going to change anyone’s views on euthanasia, but it was never meant to be. The subject isn’t touched upon as much as it would have been in that situation. There are no lengthy discussions about the philosophical debates surrounding the practice, but rather it is a tear jerker of a love story for two people with only a short time before it must end. Rental
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer
Directed by: Thea Sharrock
Written by: Jojo Moyes
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Portuguse, English DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 110 minutes
Own Me Before You on Blu-ray or DVD on August 30 or Own It Early on Digital HD on August 16!
Buy Me Before You On Blu-ray at Amazon
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