Me Before You (film review)

Me Before You has a running time of 110 minutes, but it feels a lot shorter. Director Thea Sharrock and editor John Wilson crafted a well paced movie, which contains no extraneous frames. Jojo Moyes adapted the screenplay from her novel, and this is a move that can sometimes backfire in the worst way possible. Moyes either excised most of the subplots that were in the book, or she covered them with a few lines of dialogue. I admire her ability to pull it off so well. What remains is a very streamlined story, with no unnecessary detours.

Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) is a financier, living in old London town. One rainy morning Will is leaving for work, and his girlfriend Alicia (Vanessa Kirby) says, “Don’t take the steamroller, you’ll kill yourself!” Will walks out the door and into the street, and BLAM! He’s run over by a steamroller. Oh, how the British love their irony.

Okay. Substitute “motorcycle” for “steamroller” in each instance above, and you”ll have an accurate depiction of events. Albeit a far less humorous one.

Louisa “Lou” Clark (Emilia Clark) is in need of a job, but she has no skills, nor does she have the stomache to work at the chicken processing facility (I know how she feels on both counts). The nice bloke at the job center tells Lou about a caretaker position that requires no previous experience. Perfect! Or so she thinks.

Will, who is now a quadraplegic, has a properly trained, professional caretaker, who is called Nathan, (Steve Peacocke) for that is his name. In a sense, Lou is to be Will’s carer, in a similar way to how Clara Oswald is the carer for the twelfth (or is it thirteenth) incarnation of The Doctor. By that I mean: she cares, because he doesn’t. Speaking of Clara, Jenna Coleman plays Lou’s sister Katrina, in Me Before You.

I am a sucker for a good romantic movie; especially British ones. British films in general tend to have the best supporting casts, and Me Before You is no exception. Janet McTeer and Charles Dance play Will’s parents, and they are a perfectly lovely couple. Lou’s father is played by Brendan Coyle, who is every bit as wonderful as he was as Mr. Bates on Downton Abbey.

Both sets of families have a lot more going on in the novel than than in the film, and some of the changes made are quite drastic. I keep mentioning the differences as if this is a bad thing, but it isn’t. Books and movies are two different mediums, and what works for one doesn’t always translate to the other. Think of the novel as the “Author’s Version,” if you will. It’s not so much a collection of deleted scenes, as it is just more of a good thing.

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