When Jojo Moyes walked into the room during a press junke for “Me Before You” a few days ago, the first question didn’t come out of my mouth; it came out of hers. She asked, “Did you cry?” The funny, or not so funny, thing was that I had just had this very conversation with others about the film and whether it had made me cry. My answer was yes, absolutely. I was as spell bound and smitten with the characters as when I read the book a few months ago, and my fondness for the leads grew even more intense after seeing the film. However, since I had literally just read the book, the tears didn’t come as fast and furious as I thought they would. Normally, I’m a wreck in a film like this.
The film is about a young girl who loses her job and needs to find a new one quickly, to take care of her family, so she becomes a caregiver to a young paraplegic. If that doesn’t tell you why this film is a tearjerker, nothing will. And the lead actorsÂ act the heck out ofÂ their roles, in a good way – they feel their characters so intensely that it just makes it all work.
“Me Before You,” a Throwback to Real Love Stories
I adored this film. While I absolutely love itsÂ story, and appreciateÂ the throw back to a good one fashioned one, much of my affection for the film’s characters is due to the actors who portray Will Trainer and Louisa Clarke. Emilia Clarke (of Game of Thrones) and Sam Claflin (of The Hunger Games) have interesting, enchanting chemistry, and it was such a revelation to see their love blossom on celluloid. Here are two people who never would have met had it not been for a terrible accident. They come from different sides of the train track, quite literally, though in this case it’s a castle. The film has much to say about social class, which is clearly a bigger deal in the UK, but we can learn a lot about it on our side of the pond, and the vast differences between the rich and the poor. In any case, this is a true love story, and if you don’t believe in the possibility of finding your great love, this film might change your mind.
As I sat and listened to Clarke, Claflin, director Thea Sharrock and author/screenwriter Jojo Moyes, I understood why the film works and could easily see how intenselyÂ the four of them were so passionate about the final outcome. I have a few interviews coming up on Women & Hollywood and BlogHer from my time spent with them, so I don’t want to share too much of my interviews. But what I can say is that all four are completely invested in this property. It’s literally like their child being born. They are very proud of the way it represents disability, as its portrayal of a paraplegic is representative of millions of people around the world who are shunned from society. Clarke said they had experts on the set, making sure that accuracy was high every step of the way: “Having a deeper understanding of disability and knowing really whatâ€™s behind it and how you deal. Itâ€™s not about ignoring it or not about how you deal with it.”
The film, as faithful as it is to the book’s tone and style, does stray from a few crucial scenes. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, so I’m going to wait until after June 3rd to post about these changes and why Moyes and Sharrock have very good, valid reasons to have made their choices on what to leave in and what to take out.
I also have to admit I love British films, not just because 50% of my real family is from the UK. This film is quintessential English with its UK locations and UK actors. I love that the creators took great care to ensure English actors and not American actors pretending to be British. That just doesn’t always work.
Meanwhile, I am sure you are gearing up for the release of “Me Before You“. I’m planning to see it again with my 13 year old, probably on the night of June 3rd. That’s how passionate I am about this film and the lessons it has to teach about finding that great love, and the important lessons we can learn about disability. Meanwhile, I’m running to buy After You the sequel, and I’m now anxious to see that movie. After all, Moyes talked about the idea of a sequel….