Movie Review: 'Me Before You'
That’s not to say that Me Before You does anything particularly original. In fact, it rarely strays from the rules dictated by the genre. We’re still subjected to the sugarcoated montages and a pop soundtrack that's just a little too on the nose. But if you go to these sorts of films for the aforementioned catharsis, just know: this will put you through something more closely resembling a hardcore emotional detox. And for that, Me Before You already feels like a cherished staple of the genre.
Emilia Clarke, who’s best known for playing “the Mother of Dragons” on HBO’s Game of Thrones, is something of a revelation. While she rarely deviates from her stone-faced persona while playing Daenerys Targaryen on the hit show, here, she’s all wide smiles and eyebrow work outs. The joy reflected on her face is infectious. If anyone can lift Will’s spirits, it’s Clarke’s Louisa. Likewise, Claflin is a big-time leading man in the making. With a smile that can melt hearts, he taps into Will’s charm and frustration (and even his initial snobbery) with delicacy. Sidestepping the opportunity to overact at every turn, whenever he speaks, we want to lean in closer to make sure we don’t miss a single word.
Me Before You is not bogged down by the topic of sex. There’s an undeniable sexual tension between Lou and Will (one that’s heartbreakingly acknowledged in one of the film’s best scenes), but instead of being a non-stop parade of “when will they finally kiss” moments, the film forces us to rely on something far more innocent and pure. Louisa mentions a silly pair of bumblebee tights she loved as a child and Will surprises her with them; Will takes Louisa for a spin on his chair during a wedding, the two embracing and joking as couples dance around them. No matter how conventional the scene or gesture, it’s hard not to find a smile slipping onto your face. Because even if Me Before You is a romance very much in the same vein of Nicholas Sparks, there’s an electric emotional authenticity here that’s completely absent from Sparks’ recent movie adaptations. When Will tells Louisa, “You only have one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible,” it feels like less of cliché, and more like the God’s honest truth.
Me Before You is now playing in South Florida theaters. For showtimes, click here.