Heir Apparent

Me Before You

me_before_you

Director: Thea Sharrock

Cast: Sam Claflin, Emilia Clarke, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Stephen Peacocke, Brendan Coyle, Jenna Coleman, Joanna Lumley, Vanessa Kirby, Matthew Lewis, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Lily Travers

Jojo Moyes’s heart-breaking romantic novel Me Before You was a hit among ladies book clubs around the English speaking world and possibly beyond. So it was inevitable that a big screen version of the celebrated novel should appear. Stage director turned film director Thea Sharrock does a reasonably good job of directing the film version with help from the author who also wrote the screenplay.

It also helps that the two main leads, Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin are so likable in this film, otherwise Me Before You would never have worked. Ironically both actors are known for appearing in big franchise movies and TV shows. Claflin for his role in the Hunger Games trilogy and more surprisingly Emilia Clarke for her portrayal of Queen of Dragons in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

Joining the cast is another Game of Thrones star, British character actor Charles Dance (White Mischief) who plays Will Traynor’s father Stephen and Oscar nominee Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) as his mother Camilla.

#LiveBoldly

Me Before You centres on the tragic but fascinating tale of a wealthy corporate raider Will Traynor who is completely paralysed in a freak motorbike accident in central London. The once athletic and daredevil Traynor in the prime of his life has his mobility completed shattered and lands up becoming a quadriplegic. A devastating blow for his upper class affluent parents who see him as eventually inheriting the family estate which includes a castle.

On the other end of the economic scale, is the quirky and fun Louisa Clark who we first glimpse working as a waitress in a tea shop in a small town in England. Clark as she becomes known in the film, is superbly portrayed by Emilia Clarke, a positive and big hearted girl who soon becomes the carer of the selfish and arrogant Will Traynor who is sullen and angry at life’s cruellest blow.

What transpires in Me Before You is a remarkable love story without the desire of two young people who are both caught at pivotal points in their lives. The emotional arc of the film rests on how both Will and Clarke grow through their shared time together despite the dreaded intention of Will to consider euthanasia in a remote Swiss clinic.

Me Before You is a tearjerker of note, a heartfelt romantic drama which will certainly not leave a dry eye in the house. The film is ably assisted by some nuanced turns by a range of supporting actors including Downton Abbey’s Brendan Coyle as Louisa’s father Brendan Clark and the handsome physiotherapist Nathan played by Stephen Peacocke (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot).

Naturally as Will’s parents Camilla and Stephen, Janet McTeer and Charles Dance do a superb job of both conveying emotional support and regret at the terrible fate which has happened to their only son, the heir apparent to the Traynor fortune.

However, Me Before You really belongs to Emilia Clarke who lights up every scene with her delightful sensitivity as she portrays Louisa Clark to perfection, the carer that ultimately falls in love with her patient.

This beautifully shot romance is highly recommended viewing, a lighter more British version of Julian Schnabel’s superb film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Audiences should look out for a brief but amusing cameo by Joanna Lumley as she channels Patsy from Ab Fab in a touching wedding scene.

 

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