The adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ bestselling tearjerker might not hold as much appeal to the non-anglophile, but any viewer who has spent time at Downton (Brendan “Mr. Bates” Coyle), in Westeros (Emilia Clarke and Charles Dance) or aboard the TARDIS (Jenna Coleman) will recognize at least one familiar face. Clarke (the very blonde Khaleesi from HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) stars as fashion-funky Louisa “Lou” Clarke, who takes a job caring for quadriplegic Will Traynor (Sam Claflin, best known as Finnick Odair from The Hunger Games franchise). Though Will is initially cool to Lou’s goofy ways, the two eventually grow close, despite Lou’s boyfriend (Harry Potter’s Matthew Lewis) and Will’s disability.
I understand all the criticisms levied against Moyes’ heartbreaking romance, but Will is not a proxy for all persons living with disabilities. Just like in real life, some people overcome their obstacles, while some cannot. Still, no one can blame Will or the audience for falling head over heels for Clarke’s Lou, a completely captivating departure from her “Game of Thrones” badass; Me Before You could be her Rachel McAdams Notebook moment. She has authentic chemistry with Claflin, who is a real charmer.
Director Thea Sharrock has crafted the sort of nicely appointed catalog picture typically helmed by Nancy Meyers, and it succeeds much like Moyes’ sort of literature, where its multitude of pleased audience members will make multiple excuses for liking it. Me Before You definitely fails its sensitivity test while passing that Cosmo romance quiz with flying colors.
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