Friday, 24 June 2016

'Me Before You' Review (2016): Love and Tragedy

Half Price: Good enough to go out to the theatre for, but not worth the full ticket. 
Reviewing movies as a hobby, or a career, if you take it seriously enough, sometimes means seeing movies you don’t want to see. To date, I’ve only had about one or two experiences which made me rethink my choice to do this as consistently as I am. Many of the movies that I dread seeing end up with something redeemable about them. Still though, there are times when I’m standing in that lobby, looking at my ticket, having spent my hard earned money where I say, “Why am I here”. ‘Me Before You’ was one such time.

Like all those other times though, I was pleasantly surprised that ‘Me Before You’ was not the banal run of the mill, overtly cheesy romance film its trailer suggests. The movie follows the story of one Louisa Clarke and Will Traynor. Louisa is Will’s caretaker, after Will suffers an accident that leaves him without the use of his arms or legs. As the movie goes on the two start to develop feelings for each other, and the movie explores the questions of what it means to be alive, and how to live a life worth living.

As dreamy people look at each other dreamily, thinking "You're so dreamy :)"
As grim as that sounds, fear not. The movie’s tone is so light it makes a feather blush. I wish it had taken a hard left turned and really delved into the darkness it flirts with. Most of that flirtation comes from Will’s character. He’s someone who would water ski on Thursday and bungee jump on Tuesday, so his accident takes a considerable toll on him. I did wish more of that misery was explored though. Sam Caflin more or less plays will as a smug grouch, but you get the sense that that’s not too far from who he was before his accident.

The other side of the coupling fares a little better. Emelia Clarke’s Louisa Clark delightfully plays against type in this movie. I’m used to her as a take no prisoners femme fatale, but here she’s a ball of awkward quirk. A burst of positivity to crack the hardened demeanor of her male counterpart. It’s a character that could have been completely obnoxious, but manages to delight rather than annoy.

The battle cry of the hopelessly awkward.
Not that they matter but the supporting cast is a mixed bag of really dull and really great. On the dull side you have Clive Owen Jr, Matthew Lewis, who plays the unlikable boyfriend of Louisa who only exists to momentarily prevent the two leads from getting together. On the great side, you have Will’s parents. That darker tone I wished the movie had delved into came through with their performances. Charles Dance and Janet McTeer were excellent as parents coming to terms with a child in pain.

I don’t expect too much from romance movies, in the same way that I don’t expect too much from action movies. I more or less think they’ll follow the same basic structure as the films that came before it. The saving grace of these movies is whether or not you actually like the characters it puts together. To that end, ‘Me Before You’ does this well. Will’s smarmy arrogance transforms into charm, and works well with Louisa’s naivety. In my eyes, the mark of a good romance film is whether or not I can remember the lead character’s names by the end of it, so, good job ‘Me Before You’. It’s an all right date movie, and if you’re not afraid of being seen as a cheap date, maybe go check it out at Half Price.