Last week, thanks to Penguin Ireland, I won a competition on Twitter to attend an advanced screening of Me Before You. I had only just finished the book so it was perfect timing! It was a pretty good read too so I was looking forward to seeing how it translated to the big screen.
The screening took place in the Light House Cinema in Smithfield. We were amongst the first to arrive so we grabbed some seats towards the back for the best view! We were treated to complimentary sweets for the film and afterwards, there was a lovely reception in the lobby which featured lots of delicious tapas, cakes and prosecco. What more could a girl want?! It was such a fun evening!
*Warning: Some Spoilers To Follow*
The film itself was really enjoyable. It boasts such an amazing cast including Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones), Sam Claflin (Finnick from The Hunger Games) and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter!).
Since I had already read the book, I was familiar with the storyline. It largely remains the same for the film although as always happens with these kind of adaptations, some scenes have been omitted.
The main character is Louisa Clarke, a kind and cheerful young woman who lives an unassuming life in the small town where she grew up. When she loses her job in the local café, she’s desperate to find new employment in order to help her family who are struggling financially. Although she has no experience in the field, she agrees to take on a role as a carer. She’s assigned to Will Traynor, a man with quadriplegia. To start, the pair don’t get on at all. Will is aloof and dismissive of Louisa’s attempts to befriend him. She initially finds it impossible to win him over but as the weeks pass, Louisa and Will slowly begin to bond. Eventually — and unintentionally — they even start to fall for one another. Of course, this isn’t some straightforward love story. Louisa has been hired by Will’s mother primarily to brighten Will’s life. Once an extremely active person, Will can’t adjust to being paralyzed. Mr and Mrs Traynor are desperate for their son to feel that life is worth living again and Louisa makes it her mission to see that happen.
Me Before You is, first and foremost, a romantic comedy. There are lots of laugh-out-loud moments throughout both the book and the film. The connection between Lou and Will is heart-warming and there’s wonderful chemistry between Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin on the screen. Game of Thrones fans will hardly recognize Khaleesi as the sweet and chirpy protagonist! I also adored Matthew Lewis as Lou’s self-obsessed boyfriend Patrick. Of course, there are some not-so-light scenes as well and I’d definitely advise having tissues on hand — or at least wearing waterproof mascara!
It’s impossible to discuss Me Before You without acknowledging the controversy surrounding it, with critics suggesting that the story implies that disabled lives are not worth living. Personally, having read the book and seen the film, I really wouldn’t agree with that. Louisa is enlisted to help Will rediscover meaning and happiness in his life. She reaches out to other quadriplegics and carers who are in similar situations and finds that they are embracing their lives in their own individual ways. She and his family offer as much help and support as they can but ultimately it’s Will’s choice to make. It’s important to Will to have that bit of control over his own future and even though it might not be what others want, I agree that we should all be entitled to make our own decisions about our own lives. Me Before You might not be to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed both the book and the film and look forward to getting stuck in to the sequel.