Tuesday 17 May 2016

Review: Me Before You

Me Before You
Cert: 12A / 110 mins / Dir. Thea Sharrock / Trailer

Well, thanks a bunch. This is how Karma repays me for daring to venture out of my comfort-zone and take a punt on a movie which wouldn't normally appeal. I can't remember the last time I was patronised for so long and with such brutal, cinematic efficiency. Thea Sharrock's screen adaptation of Jojo Moyes' weepy-bestseller could only be more twee if the cast were replaced by kittens wearing unicorn costumes, nibbling on cupcakes while The Archers played in the background.

The story of the soulful, burgeoning romance between Will Traynor, a quadriplegic former business-whizz and Louisa Clark, his pro-level Ditzy™ hired-companion is headed up by Emilia Clarke, who deftly weaves between giving me motion-sickness by acting entirely with her eyebrows, and inducing a migraine with a succession of garish outfits*1, the likes of which bellow "Look at how UNIQUE I am!!" before she's even walked around the corner. Her simpering performance is further hampered by a screenplay which has the audacity to stop and explain itself every ten minutes, and a one-dimensional supporting cast spouting vacuous clichés instead of dialogue.

Perhaps ironically, the only person to escape more or less unscathed here is Sam Claflin, as the wheelchair-bound Will, struggling to come to terms with disability two years after a road-accident, despite having the best facilities and physical support that money can buy. Claflin is on very solid form here, and certainly believes he's in a far better film. This helps his performance no end, but does nothing for his co-stars. Sadly, the film isn't really interested in the only interesting character it has, and we can only imagine the turmoil he's been going through (by which I mean that we can only imagine this because it's explained, but not really shown).

Maybe I expected a film which would explore the psychology of disability for a mainstream audience. But this isn't a film about Will. This is a film about Lou, who manages to end her journey every bit as directionless and self-absorbed as she began it. If this whole thing is a post-modern experiment of social juxtaposition, intended to demonstrate to an able-bodied audience what it's like to be endlessly condescended to, then well done.

Thanks, Karma.
In the next twenty four hours I'll be sitting watching three X-Men movies back to back, and I'm going to gleefully savour every. single. punch.

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Banging yourself over the head with a tin tray for an hour and a half.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
This is a DVD, even for its target audience.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
If you're in its target audience, I imagine it does, yes.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Emilia Clarke is in Game of Thrones, of course*2, along with Gwendoline 'Phasma' Christie. Oh, that the bodycount was anywhere near as high in this film...

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 The film makes a point of repeatedly telling the audience how hard-up Clarke's working class family is, and that she's only taking the job to support them. This, despite her having costume-change for every single scene and never wearing the same item of clothing twice. Given that the fusty village she lives in is populated by people who wear beige crimplene as a fashion statement, it's staggering to think how much of her family's much-needed money she's spending on looking like An Australian's Nightmare™. Why do so many films automatically translate "quirky" as "annoying"?

*2 And is, ironically, one of the few things I enjoyed about the episodes of GoT I managed to get through.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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