Me Before You

When does true love require you to say goodbye?

Me Before YouAs it came to an end, I sat in my seat unashamedly emotionally dissipated. With Me Before You, Director Thea Sharrock gives us a film that teaches all of us to find meaning even in the face of life’s inevitable tragedies.

Here, Sam Claflin plays William Traynor, a young London businessman from a wealthy family who enjoys frantic athletic adventures with friends as well as the company of a woman close to his heart. However, it all comes to an end when he is suddenly struck by a motorcycle while walking in the rain to catch a cab. Paralyzed from the neck down, it is apparent that life has lost any meaning to Mr. Traynor.

With a caustic demeanor causing every caretaker to flee, his mother hires Louisa Clark, a small town London girl seeking any job to help her family. Played in unforgettable fashion by Emilia Clarke, she combines a memorable set of clothes with a heart of gold that prods the helpless Mr. Traynor to slowly emerge from his self-imposed shell.

The relationship between these two is a work of cinematic art that will repeatedly bring tears to your eyes. There is nothing artificial or corny in the way they gradually warm to each other, and this is one of the great romantic films to hit the big screen in a long time.

What adds to the film’s depth is some powerful performances by supporting actors. Charles Dance and Janet McTeer are pitch perfect as the parents of a paralyzed son. They try to keep their hearts from breaking while attempting to give him some hope, and you will never forget their torment when confronted with William’s personal decision concerning ending his own life.

You also get to see Louisa spend time with her parents, Bernard and Josie Clark (Brendan Coyle and Samantha Spiro), sister Katrina (Jenna Coleman) and boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis). Living in a home where her father is unemployed and her boyfriend grows increasingly jealous, Louisa displays an emotional strength that leaves most of the audience feeling that the film is wrapping its arms around you.

I adore films that center on love, anguish and loss. There have been other great films touching on those subjects, ranging from On the Beach (1959), They Were Expendable (1945), Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939), Casablanca (1942), Ghost (1990), Last of the Mohicans (1992) and Into the West (1992). Me Before You joins their esteemed company.

Let me close by saying that the injury to Mr. Traynor left me a bit overwhelmed. Four years ago I suffered the same injury after being struck by a motorcycle in the rain, and I was hospitalized for close to three weeks. Despite initially dancing on the edge of death, I was able to recover. (At least that is my claim!)

I can only imagine what I would have done had I been completely paralyzed. Had daily pain been inescapable and I was left where others had to care for every bodily function, I still wonder if some type of assisted suicide would not have been a blessing for me and those I loved.

With a fantastic musical score surrounding every scene, I can’t remember being so emotionally overpowered by such wondrous performances as given by Ms. Clarke and Mr. Claflin. Yes, you’re going to bawl your eyes out, but this film will etch memories in your heart that you will treasure for a long time.