Me Before You(thanasia)

We saw this movie against our wills. It was part of a double bill we had no interest in seeing but it was at the drive-in on the warmest, most starry, most perfect drive-in night of the year, and it couldn’t be helped.

The premise: a young woman named Lou (Emilia Clarke) goes to work at a castle, caring for a recently quadriplegic man, Will (Sam Claflin). Cut down in the prime of his life and 635906306787211507-XXX-ME-BEFORE-YOUunable to accept his new limitations and circumstances, Will is surly and depressed. It makes for an unpleasant work environment for Lou but her financial desperation keep her hanging on, just barely, and that’s BEFORE she finds out he’s wickedly suicidal. Will’s in favour of going to Switzerland for end of life treatment now that life’s rather small and joyless, but he’s promised his parents six months, so he’s gritting his teeth as he suffers through them. Lou’s going to save him of course, with her quirk and her chattiness and her colourful penchant for terrible shoes, even if she has to make him fall in love with her to do it.

First of all, this felt very much like a poor man’s rip off of The Intouchables, in which another unlikely friendship blossoms between quadriplegic and caregiver, also marked by a disparity between social class. But I’d heard that Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart were set for that particular  (unnecessary) remake (read: lazy Americans hate subtitles!). I guess this one justifies itself by having a predictable and pedestrian romantic twist that even the dude’s mother (Janet McTeer!) sees coming from a mile away, even without help from her turret. Because again: they live in a freaking castle. It’s a good thing that disabled people Emilia-Clarke-and-Sam-Claflin-in-Me-Before-Youare always so ridiculously wealthy. Life might actually look a little bleak without the tricked out vans, front row orchestra seats, fully accommodated living spaces, round the clock care, and even accessible tropical travel destinations. It kind of makes you wonder whether these poverty-stricken caregivers are falling in love with their patient, or with their patient’s lifestyle. And in this movie at least, Will truly does not have anything to give but his money. He’s just an angry guy in a chair.

And his tissue-thin character isn’t even the worst. Lou is played over-exuberantly by Emilia Clarke in such a way that I just wanted to hold her down, knee on neck, and wax those damn eyebrows off. I usually love a big juicy eyebrow but watching hers jump all over her face like not one but two hungry caterpillars were performing a pixi-stix-fuelled ballet made me want to lob a bug bomb at the screen and call it a night. Her tone was completely wrong for the film and as much as Will was a grump unworthy of love, I think she’d be even less of an attractive mate, particularly to someone who can’t get away. Luckily, if you begin to feel queasy about the whole Cinderella\sugar daddy in a wheel chair “plot”, you can distract yourself with the many swelling ballads obnoxiously shoved into the movie willy-nilly. Worst movie music ever? You decide, but I will say this: this is a two-Ed-Sheeran-songs kind of movie. That’s probably enough said.

So now we can get to the meat: the disabled community HATES this movie. Will wants to die because life as he knew it is over, and they feel like that’s a pretty horrible attitude to me_before_you_lowresproject onto the world, and they’re not wrong. Is this a disability snuff film? Disabled lives are worth living, and many are living well. However, living with a disability and living with pain are not the same. I live with both, and am extremely glad that I live in a place where I have the “right” to die. It’s not in my immediate plans, but some days just knowing I have that option is all that gets me out of bed. When the pain is bad, I know that I can end my suffering when I choose, and that gives me strength. If you think love conquers all, then you’ve never walked a mile in my shoes. Pain conquers all. Pain is bigger than the whole world.

Disabled people are people: they should be respected and portrayed fairly in TV and film as part of our diverse world. And it’s a really sad commentary when the only time they’re included in the conversation is when they’re being presented like this, the object of an impossible romance and too big a burden to live. But the right to die is about dignity. Whether Will (or anyone) decides euthanasia is the right thing for them or not, it’s a deeply personal decision, and maybe it’s time the rest of us stop judging.

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Me Before You(thanasia)

  1. joel watches movies

    I was very surprised when I saw the early IMDb rating be in the high 7s, because the trailer made it look like terribly cliche and schmaltzy.. sounds like it does stand out a bit after all, though not for good reasons. nice review, and I appreciated you sharing a bit of your own personal struggles with disability. I wish you peace on your journey!

    Like

    Reply
  2. Lorna Cunningham-Rushton

    I had no intention to see this, but every intnetion to enjoy myself reading your take on it. Have I told you lately that I love you?

    Like

    Reply
  3. Birgit

    I feel for you. I live with constant pain and can’t do many things and always just shake my head when I see such films portray people who have a disability in this style. I saw the previews and have no desire to see this film which looks like the typical flick it sounds to be. From what I read here…..I think I’m right and will wait when it’s on tv and Caddyshack is not on.

    Like

    Reply
  4. Benjamin Andrew

    Never knew there was an uproar about this. I expect to be dragged to this one too soon so I guess I’ll have to grin and bear it but it seems like something I won’t struggle to dislike. Really interesting review

    Like

    Reply
  5. Brittani

    LOL I mentioned the eyebrow thing too. Seems she took a page from Emma Watson’s book.

    I read the book this summer because it was recommended by a friend, I didn’t care for it, but the film managed to be even worse.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      It was on my not-watch list because even without the controversy I tend not to like the weepies. I happened to catch this at the drive-in though and discovered it was much worse than that.

      Like

      Reply
  6. J.

    Oooft. I don’t know about this! Reckon if I’m in the mood for such shenanigans I want Al Pacino shouting at the hired help.

    Like

    Reply
  7. Liz A.

    I’m divided on this one. I feel like the writer had the right to write what they felt, even it if is maudlin. But, that’s kind of a weak choice, if you ask me. Not that I’m against euthanasia, far from it. But it seems like this movie is more movie-of-the-week about the issue rather than delving into it.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s