Sequels, reboots, adaptations and franchises are becoming something of a norm these days in Hollywood, and none has stood the test of time more than the romantic novel adaptation. From Nicholas Sparks to John Green, they’ve all had their fair share of success – but do they always stay true to the source?
One of the latest adaptations to grace our screens is Me Before You, based on the best-selling novel by Jojo Moyes, who also wrote the film. Me Before You follows a small town English girl, Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke), who gets a job as a carer for upper class quadriplegic Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), where he changes her life in more ways than one. A quantifiable weepy, Me Before You delivers on the heartfelt romance, but not so much in the way of substantial characters.
Me Before You had the familiar feeling of an adaptation with sections missing, as parts of the plot and several characters felt underdeveloped and unexplained. Through this, many things suffered: Lou was rather one note, with hardly any backstory to back up her position in life. Why was she still living by the castle, at home at 26? Well, you’ll just have to read the book. As a film that centres heavily on euthanasia and assisted suicide, the movie also didn’t do justice to these themes from the book, and Will is left to misrepresent the disabled community as suicidal and depressed. Whilst it is not my place to comment for the disabled community, I will say this: the book handles these themes much more deftly, and gives a wider voice to these issues. In this way, what could’ve been rather interesting characters and issues were left incomplete, and therefore unsatisfying to watch.
Regardless, the film was quite beautiful to watch, with many romantic scenes to make any heart melt, and as Lou falls further in love with Will, we feel her imminent heartbreak looming in the distance. But when things became too cheesy, there were goofy moments to give us more to relate to, grounding the film: Lou is both utterly unique and extremely relatable, and because of this Me Before You was a much more realistic film, with real characters. Much of this is due to Emilia Clarke as Lou: Clarke was pretty much born to play Lou, and gives her such a human passion and goofiness, well foiled by Sam Claflin’s harsh Will. Janet McTeer gives an emotional performance as Camilla Traynor, struggling with her son’s decisions, and despite an underwritten character, Matthew Lewis is fittingly annoying as Lou’s boyfriend Patrick. A breakout performance from Australia’s own Stephen Peacocke is also a highlight, as Will’s Antipodean nurse Nathan.
Not all materials fit well on screen; Fantastic Four comic series has, in four outings on the big screen, yet to have any success. But Me Before You is definitely not a failure – despite some underwritten characters, Lou and Will’s story is still heartbreaking, goofy and relatable, and the characters truly lovable. And whilst it doesn’t quite cover its major issues so well, it’s a romantic film with both depth and humour, something which other romance adaptations lack.
And, here’s my list of the top five films and TV shows starring the cast of Me Before You:
- Games of Thrones – Emilia Clarke and Charles Dance
- The Harry Potter series – Matthew Lewis
- Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Sam Claflin
- Captain America : The First Avenger – Jenna Coleman
- Bad Education – Samantha Spiro