Note: There are a few spoilers in this post – please read with caution if you haven’t seen “Me Before You”.
When I saw “Me Before You,” I wasn’t crying as I suspect most audience members will be doing after they see it. After having read the book, there was just too much for me to think about. While I was quite taken with the outcome, and found the story of a couple in love with fatal obstacles uniquely told (though I am aware of the public outburst by the disabled community who don’t care of its portrayal of a young man, paralyzed from the neck down, who chooses to end his life), I was mystified by some of the story choices, as two major events in the book were omitted.
For one thing, a pivotal scene in the book where Will and Louisa take a stroll through the village castle and she has a flashback to a critical event in her life, a rape scene, that has really truly informed a lot of who she is now is and why she makes many of her own life choices and is held back and in some respects. The other key plot twist is that the father is a cheat and blatantly is cheating on Will’s mom. Louisa sees them together at one point, and we are told in very specific terms about his mistress.
So when I met up with the film’s writer Jojo Moyes and its director Thea Sharrock, I absolutely had to know why these story lines were left out. I at first assumed they were for time purposes – the movie may have already run too long, but I wanted to know if the scenes were ever considered and actually shot, too. Both women were very candid about their choice. It sounded like they were very conflicted about the final decision but feel at peace with what was decided now that the film has hit theaters. If you read to the end of this part of the interview to Sharrock’s final comment, it will somehow make perfect sense.
“Me Before You” – From Book to Film
Moyes: We actually did film those scenes. This is where it became really interesting to me in terms of the process from book to film because the rape scene was included initially.
Sharrock: We worked together to try different ways of doing it – from a flashback to in the moment – and tried a few cinematic ways to tell that part of the story.
Moyes: The problem we had with it is that in the book it’s almost a throwaway line. You read it, you kind of go, hello did she just say what I think she said? And you go back and realize what she’s telling you in quite opaque terms and there is no way to do that visually because the moment you go into the maze or express anything about the horror of that evening, it becomes a much bigger and weightier thing. You can’t do that quickly and be respectful to the topic.
Sharrock: It became the pivotal thing. It became the thing that made Louisa who she was and therefore changed the entire direction of the film and of the arc of the character and therefore the arc of the story of the whole film.
Moyes: It sort of over-balanced it.
Sharrock: It became a thing you constantly came back to and it suddenly became a girl who had possibly been raped in a maze and anything else that was happening was around it.
Moyes: It was six months of discussion. In the end, we decided the key thing was the relationship between them and that we couldn’t maintain that at the forefront.
Sharrock: And also more importantly, for me, what I loved so much about the scene it eh book is that it was Will’s way of opening up and allowing her therefore to open up, so as long as we incorporated that somewhere in the film, I felt we were getting the best of both worlds. In terms of the affair, I thought it was really important, we shot it. And when we were watching the film with it in, we just felt that every time you came to the parents together, particularly when they come back from holiday and she collapses into his arms or right at the end of Dignatas, if you know about the affair, it changes everything and you can’t focus on the emotion that they are feeling and allow that to happen.