Me Before You is a romantic drama film directed by Thea Sharrock starring Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance and Matthew Lewis.
A girl in a small town forms an unlikely bond with a recently-paralyzed man she’s taking care of.
Me Before You is your unmistakably typical, standard fare book-to-film romantic drama that is written ordinarily and is ultimately saved by its two leads from letting itself indulge too much in its beautiful nature instead of the fragility of its themes. Before we get on to the bad, we’d like to get first to the one thing that would give you your money’s worth: Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin’s electric chemistry. One thing could be said about them, and it is that they are paired flawlessly without a doubt. Both would give you a warm feeling that would get you feeling giddy whenever they interacted, and you would be delightfully happy with it.
That is until they begin to remember that one of them would an unfortunate fate, and the events leading to that let all of what we enjoyed quickly fade away into nothingness and boredom. Now that all of that has been expressed, let’s get on to the downsides, which is in reality, a lot. By a lot, we mean to say cliched, weightless and non-beneficial to what the film’s marketing wanted it to look like. But to be honest, we’d still mention some of its good, it’s just that we really wanted to get its biggest lifesaver out of the way because that’s really everything that you need to know about it in terms of it being a favorable film.
How the film is written is rather contradicting by never making you feel how it wants you to really feel. The emotional stature of its narrative isn’t really sufficient to get yourself sunken into it, as it feels too safe at one place, going after the same thing that it has already grabbed onto in prior time. The cutesy tone that it latches itself onto makes the film just THAT, and it almost acts as a barrier to block almost all of the emotional weight that it wants to carry on its softly built plot. With that, we couldn’t really sense anything for us to connect ourselves with, for it is there to only give us a good time, to send out a positive message about a distressing life.
The only thing that recompenses its conspicuous flaws other than its magical leads is the fact that this part of the film undeniably achieved elegance in accordance to its will to act like it, perfectly matching the film’s almost excessive use of vibrancy to keep us from feeling its unexposed sensitivities. For the average viewer, this could come out as pleasant and sweet. But if you are sharp enough to figure out what all that was for, you’d be sad to find out that it was all just a big sheath to cover up its “emotions” which are really, nowhere to be found, at least genuinely. Considering how its plot sounds on paper, it’s really just weird to see how the film falsifies that feeling we should get by letting us not get so much more from its characters, absolutely conflicting its true yet non-profound intents.
It had difficulties balancing its two leads, and because of all that, you just couldn’t quite figure out, let alone guess where all of their emotions are coming from. When it goes for its tonal vulnerabilities to take us to a place of misery, it all feels fake and remarkably forced, with the characters’ downcast emotions feeling too convenient and utterly unconvincing. A hindrance that is exemplary to its huge shortcomings is its focus on characters. No, it isn’t messy, but in all honesty, we had difficulties picking up what their character backgrounds are because we couldn’t see what’s happening in their eyes with wholesomeness. This could be due to the film’s unbalanced characterizations that led to a some good and some bad, with the good giving us a little non-romance related drama that insists us to feel. Nonetheless, this didn’t turn out to be such a bad idea because it was a small thing to help us not feel too nauseous from the “weepy” romance.
There were so many things that it could have poked and reached out for in success, but it just couldn’t seem to see all that as it is very much blinded by its charms that carried itself to an average level. So much so that the delicateness of its themes just ended up becoming frail and unused to its fullest extent even if it tries to go all out in its emotional payoff. No thanks to the film’s need to be sappy and excessively happy and all the other things that helped it stray away from being even the slightest bit extraordinary.
So, if you are the planning to bring some tissues with you on the way to the cinema, we suggest you to drop it because there is no reason to do so. In short, Me Before You isn’t tearjerky, nor is it excellent. Once again, star power saves the day like it always does for a film like this. If it weren’t for Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, both of whom sparkled brightly, we’d be throwing our popcorn at the screen the moment we realized how cheesy it really is. We’re grateful we were blinded by their talents because that’s all you should come and stay for, and not its ambitions to become an affecting romantic drama like any other of Hollywood’s sugary paps.
* Me Before You opens in Philippine cinemas on June 15 from Warner Bros. Pictures.