There are minimal films where an actor is so remarkable that their performance transcends sentimentality: 2014’s “The Fault in Our Stars”, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, whose profound characterizations pulverized the tear ducts of the most frigid cynics, and now “Me Before You’’ (based on the novel by JoJo Moyes) director Thea Sharrock’s weepy, wonderful story of a beautiful, privileged young man whose dynamic life was cauterized by a reckless motorcyclist on a slick, slippery day in London.
“Will Traynor” (exquisitely depicted by Sam Claflin) is a caustic paraplegic; his untrammeled mind suffocating in a worthless, non-functioning cocoon; he is alive in breath only; his mother “Camilla Traynor” (Janet McTeer gifts the character with the “stiff-upper-lip” aura expected from elitist British society) hires “a companion” for her irascible son, “Louisa Clark”, a waif of a girl, whose wardrobe defies conformity, a fired waitress, her salary of vital importance to her financially strapped family. Her combustibility, boundless joy, sheer limitless lust for living ignites Will and viewers simultaneously. Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) excavates from the pit of her vast creativeness and blesses audiences with the rarest of heroines: a woman of inimitable kindness, goodness, an infectious smile and nature; she’s lived twenty-six years without guile, hatred; she is a simple, glowing, saintly soul, whose spiritedness triggers Will’s reentry into the world. Their disparate backgrounds fertilizing, enhancing their relationship: Will opens up the world of foreign films, Mozart, the ease of phenomenal wealth; “Lou” takes him to the horse races, her family’s home, a Paradise Island.
Life is about choices, respect for the one who chooses; “Me Before You” is not judgmental, pejorative; it just is what it is…..a dazzling, tantalizing tale of trauma and love.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!