By: Felix Felicis (Two Beers)-
Jojo Moyes is basically the female Nicholas Sparks of tearjerkers except subtract the omnipresent cancer and add complex, layered drama that will punch you so hard in the feels you’ll pretty much barf crying emojis until kingdom come. This film isn’t filled with your usual pretty people doing pretty things until one of them realizes how much they love the other one before the “happily ever after” anvil drops on them and the credits roll. Me Before You is an (albeit fairly predictable) character-driven drama that happens to have enough of a dash of romance in it to have anyone with a uterus straight ugly crying within a fifty mile radius of every theater showing the film. The real reason our sea levels are rising isn’t global warming, oh no, it’s all the tears shed by hysterically weeping women at the conclusion of Me Before You. Don’t believe me. Believe science.
Me Before You follows the underwhelming life of Louisa “Lou” Clark (played by the human treasure, and Mother Of Dragons, that is Emilia Clarke) as she floats by the wayside, content watching her fitness freak boyfriend, Patrick (HOLY SHIT IT’S FUCKING HOT AS SHIT NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM ALL GROWN UP DAYYUUUUMMM) played by Matthew Lewis, train for a brutal triathlon and giving up her life’s ambition to help her financially strapped family out. After getting canned from her day job apparently humoring crazy old people at a bakery, she’s employed by the Traynor’s to help care for their super fine quadriplegic son, Will, played by Sam Claflin (because The Hunger Games are over but the crying game has only just begun)… But only for six months. Cue drama, romance, and angst galore.
Having read the book, of which Jojo Moyes adapted into a screenplay herself, I’m giving Me Before You the rare “As Good As Or Better Than The Book” badge that I assign about as often as Taylor Swift has a relationship longer than two years. All of the key elements translate well from page to screen and Moyes even manages to give a couple slightly unlikable characters a more likable makeover (Clark’s sister and boyfriend are much more relatable as a result) and streamline other unnecessary elements (the disabled grandfather and philandering Traynor father don’t suck up as much screen time and largely get glossed over in favor of moving things along- which is a good call).
But the real stars here are, of course, Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, as their chemistry is both charming and filled with slow-burning intensity. Shout out to Clarke’s eyebrows which should’ve gotten an acting credit all their own considering the insane gymnastics they were performing throughout. Clarke and Claflin take what could otherwise be an emotional blackhole of depressing character arcs and fill them with genuine, authentic character connection. You care about these people and what happens to them because, even in the face of a fairly predictable plot, Clarke and Claflin manage to reach out of the silver screen and rip your still-beating heart out of your chest and crush it.
Me Before You doesn’t sanitize the drama in favor of a Hollywood Happy Ending (please reference Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper for everything that you should NEVER do when adapting a book) and that in and of itself deserves a Toast for the balls to put the original material out there, zero shits given about the fallout surrounding the serious subject matter and taking the conversation started by the events within the film and running with it.
Just because your film transcends predictable plot points and story arcs to achieve an overall fantastic flick, doesn’t mean those detracting factors should be critically excused. Me Before You suffers slightly from a melange of maladies. It doesn’t have the freshest story (you’ve seen and heard the star-crossed love story thousands of times before) and while Jojo Moyes is an incredibly talented writer and storyteller, her cups of tea are long, meandering narratives which tend to put you to sleep before a third act where the drama boots some black tar heroin and pistol whips you super hard in the feels… But the pacing of Moyes’ stories are anything but fast or furious and I just kept waiting for her to get to the goddamn center of the pathos-filled Tootsie Pop already.
Me Before You is a stellar example of a film that knows exactly who its audience is and delivers lock, stock, and two weeping barrels of drama.
Me Before You (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every crazy outfit Lou rocks.
Do a Shot: anytime Nathan saves the day.
Take a Drink: for each field trip.
Take a Sip: whenever Emilia Clarke’s eyebrows go haywire.
Take a Drink: each time Patrick is a slightly obtuse dick.
Shotgun Your Beer Through The Tears: You’ll know when.