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Me Before You Reviews

Reviewed By: Tim Holland

Me Before You, the utterly predictable, yet undeniably pleasing weepie based on Jojo Moyes' best-selling romantic novel, treads all-too-familiar territory, but it does so with such sure-footed confidence that it's impossible to resist its calculated charms. Anyone who's seen Love Story, The Fault in Our Stars, or any Nicholas Sparks yarn will immediately know where this death-tinged tale of mismatched lovers is headed, and that's fine. It's a treat to see a two-hanky tearjerker that's been artfully crafted by people who know exactly what they're doing.The story begins with Will Traynor (The Hunger Games' Sam Claflin), a rich, athletic Londoner, leaving his impossibly gorgeous girlfriend in bed as he dashes off to work during a torrential rainstorm. When he attempts to cross a busy street, he's struck by a motorcycle and is paralyzed from the neck down. Fast-forward two years: Will, now living with his parents (Janet McTeer and Charles Dance) in a castle on their posh English estate, is sullen and withdrawn, and wishes to die. His mother hires Louisa (Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke), a bubbly, out-of-work waitress who dresses like a thrift-store Barbie, as a companion to cheer up Will and perhaps get him to see that his life is worth living. What follows is formulaic (instant dislike followed by a growing attraction that blossoms into love), but, thanks to the sparkling chemistry between Claflin and Clarke, it still feels completely natural when Will and Louisa bond over foreign films, classical music, and unfulfilled dreams. Clarke is especially appealing as the ever-chatty-and-chipper caregiver; she is instantly likable and relatable, and wins over our hearts from the moment she pops up onscreen. Claflin, too, is superb in the more repressed and difficult role, but the script (penned by Moyes), sadly, puts forth a sanitized version of quadriplegia, never allowing the actor to fully explore the physical and emotional pain we are told Will is suffering. A bolder, more honest approach is called for, especially from a movie that puts euthanasia front and center. At times, you just want to tell the spoiled Will to buck up and take his own advice, as when he tells Louisa, "You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible."Veteran theater director Thea Sharrock, making her feature filmmaking debut here, doesn't do anything extraordinary, but she doesn't need to: The formula works. She keeps the whole enterprise humming along with acute precision, and Remi Adefarasin's sumptuous cinematography continually draws us in with postcard-perfect images. Even when familiar genre tropes are trotted out again and again, the filmmakers freshen them up and we readily accept them. And that extends to the movie's unsurprising, yet strangely satisfying conclusion.Anyone going to see Me Before You likely knows what to expect, and they won't be disappointed. The movie hits all of the hallmarks of a classic tearjerker, so if that's your thing, line up and buy a ticket. Just be sure to bring along a hanky or two.