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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 27, 2016

Me Before You Movie Review: The Love Story Of A Paraplegic And A Fashion Victim

‘ME BEFORE YOU’ is the kind of doomed love story that could have come from Nicholas Sparks, but this one is set in Britain and stars Emilia Clarke (better known to “Game of Throne” fantards as Daenerys Targaryen) as the heroine, Louisa Clark or Lou, who tries so hard to be cute and lovable.
She is clumsy and is a fashion victim who wears outrageous, ludicrous outfits, but she loves her family so much and works as a waitress who is so sweet and caring to her customers. She also has an oafish toothy grin permanently pasted on her face. Honestly, her acting to put on a winning personality never feels natural and registers more as something very put on.

She loses her job when the tea shop where she works closes down and she is forced to apply as a caregiver for a wealthy and handsome young man, Will Traynor (Sam Claflin, Finnick Odair in “Hunger Games”). Will used to be such an athletic hunk and could have been a Christian Grey, but a motorcycle accident paralyzed him from the neck down. He and his parents (Janet McTeer and Charles Dance) are so filthy rich they live in a castle (all the more to give the story a fairy tale feel.)

The nice thing for Lou is that, when she’s hired, there’s already a male nurse serving Will and he’s the one who does most of the heavy stuff for the paraplegic patient. She, in turn, is only required to show up on time, hang around and do what is expected in this kind of romance, which is have a relationship with the leading man in the course of the movie.

Of course, at the start, Will is expectedly grouchy, grumpy and bitter over what happened to him. But what is Lou a little Miss Sunshine for if she’d not be able to cheer him up and brighten his life? So her kookiness and adorable ineptitude creeps up on him and he, in turn, teaches her to be more cultured by watching foreign films with English subtitles, like “Of Gods and Men” about Trappist monks in Algeria. Now, isn’t that cute and endearing?

Actually, Lou has a dimwit of a boorish, self-centered boyfriend and you can’t understand what she sees in him. Lou and Will are also mismatched partners but, as maybe expected, they are eventually drawn to each other. But then, the story takes a tragic turn to make things more dramatic and sudsy.

Naturally, we cannot reveal what this twist in the story is all about, so as not to spoil the viewing pleasure of viewers who are suckers for this kind of sentimental stuff. Hint: it tackles the subject matter shown before in films like “Million Dollar Baby” with Hilary Swank and “Whose Life Is It Anyway?” starring Richard Dreyfuss who figured in the same predicament as Will.

We have no quarrel with movies that deal with the plot device used in “Me Before You” to make viewers cry, but if ever a filmmaker would utilize it, he has to make a persuasive case so that it won’t come out a mere manipulative plot ploy designed to make the viewers shed tears. In the two films we’ve mentioned, this is handled in a serious manner but here in “Me Before You”, the issue is not handled well. The film is based on a best-selling book and it’s writer, Jojo Moyes, also wrote the screenplay. We haven’t read the book so can we assume that something is lost in translation from the printed word to the big screen?

Anyway, we’re glad that by the time the movie ends, the taste of Lou in clothes has changed for the better and she says goodbye to her loud kitschy wardrobe in favor of less outlandish and more muted outfits. But will this role accomplish for Emilia Clarke what her role as the young Sarah Connor in “Terminator Genisys” failed to do last year? Make her a big Hollywood star?
Sorry, but we don’t think so.