Film

Me Before You a case of saccharine romance over substance

Me Before You (12A 110mins) Drama/ Romance. Emilia Clarke, Sam Clafin, Jenna Coleman, Matthew Lewis, Steve Peackocke, Charles Dance, Vanessa Kirby, Brendan Coyle, Samantha Spiro, Janet McTeer, Alan Creck. Director: Thea Sharrock. Rating: 2 Stars

Romance by numbers – Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke in Me Before You
Michael Jackson

ANYONE who has seen the trailer for would-be tearjerker Me Before You could probably predict the plot of this film with a fair degree of accuracy.

The eponymous adaptation of Jojo Moyes’s bestselling novel tells the story of working-class Louisa 'Lou' Clark (Game of Thrones star Emilia Clark), who is employed as a caregiver for wealthy quadriplegic Will Traynor (Sam Clafin, who starred in The Hunger Games).

Will was once a citified financier whose hedonistic exploits included extreme sports and other dangerous activities. The film's opening scene features an overstated twist of fate, in which the young maverick is hit by a bike on his way to work, having opted to leave his own motorbike at home.

Lou, who still lives with her parents, is a kind, sincere young woman who loses her job in the local café and must work to support her struggling family.

When employed by the wealthy Traynor family, her primary task is to provide company for paralysed and emotionally bitter Will.

During their time together Lou discovers that Will, who deeply resents his current existence, intends to end his life by assisted suicide. In a banal montage, Lou plans ways to instil joy into Will’s life in order to change his mind.

The pair dislike each other at first but soon bond over a foreign-language DVD. Their initial mutual disdain subsides, predictably giving way to affection and eventual romance.

Me Before You is a formulaic romantic story that is mildly amusing at best, and excruciatingly cheesy at worst. Emilia Clarke and Sam Clafin give endearing performances but the film's by-the-numbers romantic narrative has limited appeal.

The anger and hurt felt by Will as a result of his disability is not truly expressed and is instead kept on the periphery – confined to the occasional outburst or sarcastic quip.

Euthanasia, a complex issue which is featured quite heavily in the original novel, is not explored in any great detail in the film. Instead, the film depends on simplistic reductionism to broach the topic.

Me Before You may get the intended tearful reaction from some viewers, but director Thea Sharrock’s film-making debut is a cookie-cutter romance that's short on drama and substance.

ME BEFORE YOU (12A, 110mins) Romance/Drama/Comedy. Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Stephen Peacocke, Matthew Lewis, Charles Dance, Janet McTeer, Brendan Coyle, Samantha Spiro, Jenna Coleman, Vanessa Kirby. Director: Thea Sharrock

RATING: TWO STARS

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