1 out of 5 stars
If you are looking for a romance, this is not the film for you.
The reaction to this film was different from what the makers may have desired. The trailers communicate a beautiful and endearing romance that involves two people who desire to overcome some of life's biggest challenges, but that is not what is at the heart of this film. This is a case of the trailer deceiving audiences with a bait and switch. The actual emotion that was experienced after leaving the theatre was one of disbelief. This film was not a romance, but a justification for euthanasia. What was set up as a celebration of love was all a deception to mask a message to support an egregious act against human life.
In setting the stage for this misleading love affair, we are introduced to the whimsical personality of Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke). She is a woman who is comfortable in her own shoes, she loves her family and is beloved by the inhabitants of this small British community, but this is all about to change. After losing her job at the local tea shop, Lou must find work to help her family to make ends meet. In desperation she becomes a carer for a wealthy quadriplegic. His name is Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) and he was injured in a road accident. She finds him at a stage where he thinks there is little to live for and he finds that he has too much time to think about what he has lost. Then a ray of sunshine named Lou Clark comes into his life. She is a breath of fresh air that blows away his joyless existence and provides hope for for his parents and for Will, too. As their relationship begins to flourish, the harsh reality of life’s decisions take on a new reality for both of them. Even with all of the love and care that Will experiences from his family, friends and Lou, he decides to continue towards getting assistance in the taking of his own life.
The romance is treated with realistic effectiveness and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) is perfect as the innocent, but captivating Lou Clark. Her love interest, Sam Claflin (Hunger Games), manages to prove that he has the potential to be an engaging love interest in a romantic drama. The family culture of the Clark’s and Traynor’s are beautifully depicted for their real, but loving homes from their different sides of town. Even with all of these strong elements, director Thea Sharrock’s fails to keep the fire their relationship above a dull smoulder. The development on the screen takes so much time that the viewer may fall asleep prior being shocked awake with the nightmare ending.
Before concluding this review, it must be said that the tragedy that is displayed in the life of Will Traynor as a quadriplegic is not a subject to be treated lightly. Those who have experienced these challenges in their lives need to be supported and encouraged in light of the challenges that confront them every day. Also, those within our community who suffer from suicidal tendencies need to be supported and should never be marginalised, but directed to assistance with their lives.
In saying all of this, the difficulty with the novel and film is that novelist Jojo Moyes chooses to direct individuals that are confronted with some of life’s great difficulties that euthanasia is a peaceful answer to their problems. Many characters in the film do put forward arguments against this option to unnecessarily ending a life, but it is treated as a viable choice and Will Traynor eventually commits suicide. What was developed as a beautiful story of love overcoming life’s obstacles turns into a distasteful message of death disguised as a message of freedom. The concluding letter written to Lou by Will is meant to be a challenge to live life to the full, but comes off as hypocritical lesson as it is narrated by the very person who has chosen to take their own life.
Reel Dialogue: Suicide is not the answer
If a film like Me Before You does anything good, it has the potential to encourage people to know that God cares for them. Before anyone is born and they experience all of life's inevitable trials, God knew us all. He sees all of his creation as a masterpiece, as the psalmist says in Psalm 139 that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Also, throughout the trials and travails of this time on earth, he provides hope through the work of his son, Jesus, who came to save us and provide us with access to eternal life. The final message of the Bible and the life of Jesus, is to know that anyone can choose to have this hope of eternal life. A life without tears, without wheelchairs and without pain in the presence of God.
Where can you find help?
In Australia: Call Lifeline at 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au
If you want to more about the message of Jesus: Contact the team at City Bible Forum
Leaving the cinema...
For all it's beauty, this is a disappointing film with an egregious message. There is a better answer to life trials that can be found in Jesus.