There are only so many outcomes that can take place in a tragic romance where at least one of the two individuals has an illness or otherwise.
The sick person usually ends up dying, or the other one sacrifices themselves for their one true love. Lessons are learned, inspiration comes by way of kitschy music and a heartbreaking note left by the dearly departed, and then the movie ends.
Oh, and everyone cries.
Now comes Me Before You, a film so caught up in the formulaic “ro-cancer” (Fault in Our Stars being the last big one) trope that it hardly does anything to be original. Yet despite its lack of originality, some indelible performances make it surprisingly…not awful.
The story should be familiar: A rich, successful and affluent man, Will Traynor (Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin) finds himself a quadriplegic after being hit by a motorcycle. An all-too-caring girl, Louisa Clark (Game of Throne’s Emilia Clarke) gets hired to take care of him after being fired from job as a waitress in a town she keeps finding reasons to stay in.
You can guess where things go from here.
And that’s where much of the film’s problems lie—it’s just too damn predictable.
Anybody who has seen any other “ro-cancers” will be able to predict just how exactly the movie will end about forty minutes in. Toss in an obnoxiously upbeat score and annoyingly contemporary love songs and you pretty much have every other movie in the genre.
But what those other movies don’t have is an utterly enchanting Clarke and a snarky, yet understandably bitter Claflin.
Clarke, who many may know as Daenerys Targaryen, sheds her known ferocity and becomes just about the most charming character to grace the screen all year. Bubbly and caring, Clarke takes “adorkable” to an entirely different plane. Though her quirkiness can become a little overwhelming, she nonetheless proves herself a versatile actress as we see sides of her that are far from what we know of her from Game of Thrones.
Claflin, though rude and snobby upon first introduction, is easily forgiven once we learn about just how tragic his life has become after the accident. Offering enough sass and wit to counteract Clarke’s overtly-optimistic personality ultimately makes the two a believable duo, despite the fact that most of the movie they aren’t actually dating, despite what all the trailers want to make you believe.
With a solid supporting cast that includes Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), and Jenna Coleman (Dr. Who), the acting is not the problem here. It’s that despite being adapted to the screen by the writer of the novel, JoJo Moyes, Thea Sharrock (in her directorial debut) cannot seem to get enough of a grasp on the intense emotions near the end of the movie in order to make audience really feel the pain involved and the inspiration that comes with it. Most of the time, these types of movies would leave me at least a little misty eyed, but somewhere along the way it seems like Sharrock got caught up in trying to be every other movie in the genre instead of finding her own ways to draw out the poignancy in the tragic story, rendering it mute on much of the feels.
Regardless of its formulaic script and it’s annoyingly predictable ending…Me Before You is not awful. That isn’t to say it’s amazing, but you probably won’t regret watching a wonderfully enchanting Emilia Clarke do her most charming work ever.
I know I didn’t.