REVIEW | Me Before You (2016)

In the movie adaptation of Jojo Moyes' best-selling romantic novel, the khaleesi (Emilia Clarke) plays the 26-year-old heroine, Lou, a working class fashion victim hired to take care of an ultra wealthy quadriplegic, Will (Sam Claflin).

Hopelessly depressed, Will is set to end his life at the Swiss-based assisted suicide program, Dignitas. But can Lou's arrival in his miserable life change his decision?

Screenplay penned by the author herself and directed by Thea Sharrock, Me Before You is engaging but thinly developed. For such a strong and rich premise—love threatened by death—the storytelling is shallow. Lou and Will do not develop a strong connection; their relationship does not  go beyond trivial and unfunny conversations, or beyond luxury vacations wherein Lou would rather read a book than talk to Will. And Will seems more amused and concerned about his caregiver rather than in love with a woman. Sometimes you also get the impression that Lou is using Will so she can be exposed to the lifestyle of the rich, taking him to places that she would love to visit for the first time. It's selfish, like, "Me before you, Boss."

Clarke is miscast; struggling to portray a superficial, silly girl whose identity is solely based on loud and bright outfits inspired by the Children's Section and not on a charming personality. Clarke's performance is so forced that you can see the effort in her thick eyebrows raising to meet her hairline during emotional scenes.

The handsome Claflin displays a more substantial, natural performance as a quadriplegic, effective in his pain and suffering. Parents Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) and Janet McTeer provide brief but strong scenes. Mathew Lewis, a very slim Neville Longbotom, gives a delightful presence.

Me Before You may not make you fall in love, but will make you shed a tear for Will. Never mind the soundtrack that imposes Ed Sheeran in your ears, but it's the gentle snowfall in a silent night, or that melancholic tropical storm that make some of Claflin's state of pain more beautifully rendered.

2.5 out of 5 stars
Opens June 15, 2016, in Philippine cinemas


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