Me Before You Review: Leave With a Tear, Not a Memory

Photo Credit:Thea Sharrock’s Me Before You falls flat on an audience that has been overexposed to similar romances. Though it manages to eek out a few emotionally powerful scenes, the majority of the film leaves much room for improvement, both in story and delivery. Me Before You adopts many of the tropes common to modern-day romances, though not all of them tarnish its quality. The story’s journey to tragedy takes an obvious path but still ends sentimentally poignant. The film’s protagonist, Lou Clarke (Emilia Clarke) suffers from a relationship with the classic “self-absorbed boyfriend,” played comically by Matthew Lewis. The relationship is completely unbelievable, and, as expected, reveals itself to be simply a tool for the story. The film’s numerous montages seem to be taken directly from others, but they serve their purpose well enough. The soundtrack lists the kind of popular, ambient songs one might find in The Fault In Our Stars or 50 Shades of Grey, but it still fits the film’s atmosphere. The clichés are plenty and the plot points recycled, but the audience accepts them just enough to leave the theater with teary eyes. Me Before You’s fatal climax gives the film its biggest emotional charge, but it does not quite connect with the film’s thematic spine. The film starts as the story of two souls, both of whom life has forced into stagnancy. They have the potential to give each other purpose and movement in love and in life. However, it abruptly pivots to an unrewarding discussion on euthanasia, which, coupled with a few awkward jokes and a tasteless teasing of Will’s (Sam Claflin) accident, creates a needlessly uncomfortable position for the film’s message. Director Thea Sharrock has not quite mastered the subtleties of cinema, and it is clear that she hails from a theatrical background. Her framing is purposeless and her constant, uniform use of long lenses produces an image as flat as the film itself. The art decoration gives us no excitement. The sets look more like catalogue pictures than like places people actually inhabit. Sharrock does know how to draw out meaningful, albeit sometimes over-expressive performances from her cast, but she forgets to take full advantage of all the other tools that go along with the visual medium. Luckily, Emilia Clarke and costume designer Jill Taylor team up to give us a reprieve from this visual blandness. Clarke continues her march as one of cinema’s greatest young stars, delivering a lovable, intimate character as Lou Clarke. Lou, much like her soon-to-be love interest, has been rendered immobile by life. The audience immediately connects with her clumsy, quirky charisma, and Clarke’s eyes, as always, convey her character’s psychology in ways that most actors struggle to match. Meanwhile, Taylor gives us an equally expressive performance. Lou’s vibrant skirts and colorful shoes tell us as much about her character as Clarke’s eyes do. Lou Clarke is undeniably the most exciting aspect of the film, both emotionally and visually. Ultimately, we watch films to take ourselves on an emotional journey. We watch them to give ourselves a sentimental experience. In the end, Me Before You does deliver this experience. However, had certain errors been corrected, it could have been an experience worth remembering. Grade: C

Thea Sharrock’s Me Before You falls flat on an audience that has been overexposed to similar romances. Though it manages to eek out a few emotionally powerful scenes, the majority of the film leaves much room for improvement, both in story and delivery.

Me Before You adopts many of the tropes common to modern-day romances, though not all of them tarnish its quality. The story’s journey to tragedy takes an obvious path but still ends sentimentally poignant. The film’s protagonist, Lou Clarke (Emilia Clarke) suffers from a relationship with the classic “self-absorbed boyfriend,” played comically by Matthew Lewis. The relationship is completely unbelievable, and, as expected, reveals itself to be simply a tool for the story. The film’s numerous montages seem to be taken directly from others, but they serve their purpose well enough. The soundtrack lists the kind of popular, ambient songs one might find in The Fault In Our Stars or 50 Shades of Grey, but it still fits the film’s atmosphere. The clichés are plenty and the plot points recycled, but the audience accepts them just enough to leave the theater with teary eyes.

Me Before You’s fatal climax gives the film its biggest emotional charge, but it does not quite connect with the film’s thematic spine. The film starts as the story of two souls, both of whom life has forced into stagnancy. They have the potential to give each other purpose and movement in love and in life. However, it abruptly pivots to an unrewarding discussion on euthanasia, which, coupled with a few awkward jokes and a tasteless teasing of Will’s (Sam Claflin) accident, creates a needlessly uncomfortable position for the film’s message.

Director Thea Sharrock has not quite mastered the subtleties of cinema, and it is clear that she hails from a theatrical background. Her framing is purposeless and her constant, uniform use of long lenses produces an image as flat as the film itself. The art decoration gives us no excitement. The sets look more like catalogue pictures than like places people actually inhabit. Sharrock does know how to draw out meaningful, albeit sometimes over-expressive performances from her cast, but she forgets to take full advantage of all the other tools that go along with the visual medium.

Luckily, Emilia Clarke and costume designer Jill Taylor team up to give us a reprieve from this visual blandness. Clarke continues her march as one of cinema’s greatest young stars, delivering a lovable, intimate character as Lou Clarke. Lou, much like her soon-to-be love interest, has been rendered immobile by life. The audience immediately connects with her clumsy, quirky charisma, and Clarke’s eyes, as always, convey her character’s psychology in ways that most actors struggle to match. Meanwhile, Taylor gives us an equally expressive performance. Lou’s vibrant skirts and colorful shoes tell us as much about her character as Clarke’s eyes do. Lou Clarke is undeniably the most exciting aspect of the film, both emotionally and visually.

Ultimately, we watch films to take ourselves on an emotional journey. We watch them to give ourselves a sentimental experience. In the end, Me Before You does deliver this experience. However, had certain errors been corrected, it could have been an experience worth remembering. Grade: C

By Ryan Rose

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *