Brendan Doyle, Charles Dance, Daenarys Targaryen, Downton Abbey, Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Jenna Coleman, Jojo Moyes, Matthew Lewis, Me Before You, Neville Longbottom, Sam Claflin, The Hunger Games
In 2012 Jojo Moyes’ novel Me Before You was published and soon became a much-loved bestseller – so much so that a film adaption of the novel was released last week. As a massive fan of the novel, I was both excited and nervous but seeing that Jojo herself was the screenwriter for the film calmed my nerves. However, as much as this is a lovely film to watch, there is an awful lot missing from the novel, including some details which I think could have given the film more depth but more on that later.
If you haven’t read the book then Me Before You follows Lou (Emilia Clark) a humble down-to-earth girl who unfortunately gets let go from her job in a cafe and is forced to find employment anywhere she can in order to help support her parents. Her job quest ends when she is employed by the very wealthy Traynor’s (husband and wife played by Charles Dance and Janet McTeer) to be a carer for their son Will (Sam Claflin). Will was involved in a motorbike accident two years ago and is now a quadriplegic (paralysed from the neck down) who ultimately wants out of this new way of living. He has given his parents six months but then wishes to end his life through assisted suicide. Lou is essentially hired in order to try and change his mind, though she is not told this until a few months down the line.
Don’t be put off by the bleak premise, Jojo has taken a delicate subject and written it beautifully. There are moments of humour which come across brilliantly in the film, nothing is forced it’s all very natural which really helps connect you to the characters as they portray the events in a realistic manner. Of course towards the end things get a little more emotional but personally I didn’t find the film half as upsetting as when I read the novel. Maybe it was because I knew what was coming with the film or maybe it was because the actual assisted suicide part is very much glossed over. The film really centres on the growing friendship/romance between Lou and Will and not so much the effects Will’s desires has had on his family. In the novel, a lot more is shown of how Mr and Mrs Traynor are dealing with the paralysis, both towards their relationship with Will and each other. Also, Will’s sister isn’t even included in the film!
In fact a lot of what makes the novel so emotional has been left out. Lou’s reluctance to leave her hometown and the reason she becomes so connected to Will is because she was raped a few years previously and has since struggled to let anyone in. Will also has multiple suicide attempts and a lot more illness’ in the novel, which makes his decision towards assisted suicide a lot more understandable. I feel like the reason why he wants to end his life isn’t really touched upon in the film until the absolute end. Having said all this it’s still a lovely film, and my friend’s who hadn’t read the novel all got emotional, so maybe it’s just me being picky!
There is an excellent soundtrack – all consisting of moving/heart-warming songs – each one fitting to the moments in the film perfectly. Ed Sheeran makes two appearances with Thinking Out Loud and Photograph, both very popular love songs of last year and personal favourites of mine.
The cast are fantastic, Emilia and Sam really connect with their characters and each other. It’s great to see Emilia playing a role very different to Daenarys Targaryen in Game of Thrones (though there is no denying how amazing she is in that!). It is very easy to connect to Lou and Emilia really excels in drawing you into that character and her life. This is her first leading role and hopefully not her last! Sam Claflin is another relatively new actor from another worldwide phenomenon – he shot to fame as Finnick in The Hunger Games. Sam must have found it very hard to play a quadriplegic, it’s not easy when you are unable to move but Sam is very convincing. The two of them really do give off a lovely vibe, and it’s not long before you are rooting for their characters to get together. As the whole film centres around this story arc it’s important that you like the characters and how they are portrayed and I feel like Sam and Emilia did a very good job.
The rest of the cast are made up of well known names, with the legendary Charles Dance (coincidentally another Game of Thrones cast member, though Emilia and Charles’ characters never actually met on the show!), Lou’s dad is played by Brendan Coyle (Mr Bates from Downton Abbey) and her sister is Jenna Coleman from Emmerdale/Doctor Who (who is actually dating Richard Madden, yet another Game of Thrones alumni!). The eye candy comes in the form of Australian Nathan, played by Stephen Peacocke, who cares for Will’s medical needs, as well as the lovely Matthew Lewis aka Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter who has grown up very well indeed! Matthew plays Patrick, Lou’s boyfriend, and mainly wears tight running gear throughout the film. It’s great to see him in another role but he will always be Neville to me!
Overall, Me Before You is still a very lovely and romantic film, however it’s best to watch it as a separate story to the book otherwise you’ll be like me and pick out all that’s missing! I definitely still enjoyed the film though, there are some genuine laugh out loud moments and Emilia Clark can do no wrong in my eyes. I particularly loved that at one point Lou is seen to be reading a Marian Keyes novel, another favourite writer of mine! I will say that if you haven’t read the novel Me Before You then you must as it’s a very powerful novel, and you should also check out Jojo’s other works as she is a brilliant writer, hopefully we will see more film adaptions of her novels in the future!