Take your tissues
Directed by Thea Sharrock, Me Before You is a movie of intense themes which have caused controversy in some circles.
Essentially a love story, it follows the development of the relationship between Louisa (Emilia Clarke) and Will (Sam Claflin); a small town girl, Louisa is desperate for work and accepts the job offering care and companionship to Will, a man disabled in an accident two years before. Will, a quadriplegic, is unable to accept the changes to his life following the accident, and is not the easiest man to care for. The inexperienced Louisa struggles in her new role. But her sunny and slightly more than eccentric personality soon wins over the irascible Will.
But love does not conquer all. In this Cinderella-esque tale, the boy may have a castle and aristocracy to back him up and the girl may have her shoes, but this is the age of Dignitas and he has choices; although Louisa’s presence in his life change his short-term outlook, it is not enough.
In some ways, this film is everything that a love story should be and yet, it deals with themes that are seldom broached in such a genre. And disability is still little depicted in film. Though a very sanitised version of disability (there are no images of Will’s real struggle, indignity, pain or frustrated outbursts), it undoubtedly brings the issue into the public domain.
The moral and ethical issues of suicide are hinted at in this film, but to Louisa, there is only one right thing to do.Suicide, and almost worse, assisted suicide, is such a little discussed theme in film and yet, here it is, consciously chosen and planned.
But combining disability and suicide has angered many disability groups in the UK who feel that the story of a disabled man who cannot envision a future for himself sends out the wrong message.
Overall, this is a touching, brave film whose Cinderalla-esque images make this extremely watchable to a wide, romantic audience. And having watched it, it is impossible to leave the issues untouched.