• The Listener
  • North & South
  • Noted
  • RNZ

Me Before You - film review

It’s a romantic premise, all right, but this rolls into the wrong territory.

Me Before You: happily ever after postponed.
Me Before You isn’t about euthanasia in the same way that Jaws isn’t about a shark. Rather, it’s a chance for Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) to wriggle her sprawling eyebrows ferociously while Sam Claflin (Hunger Games) sits in a wheelchair flashing teeth whiter than Donald Trump’s campaign staff.

Claflin plays Will, a quadriplegic despondent that he can’t get back to his money-making, suit-wearing, blonde-shagging high life in the city. Clarke is Louisa, an astonishingly twee, apparently working-class gal who ends up as his carer. There’s no doubt romance will bloom, accompanied by a selection of mawkish hits songs from Ed Sheeran. But the happily ever after is postponed when it’s revealed that Will wants to end it all with the help of Swiss self-determination group Dignitas.

Protesters, disabled and able-bodied alike, picketed the film’s premiere, asserting that Claflin’s role should have gone to someone more qualified and that his purpose in the film (adapted by Jojo Moyes from her book) is merely to reinforce intensely harmful stereotypes. As righteous as they might be, their uproar gives the whole exercise more credit than it deserves. The film is broader than a Swiss lake and certainly more dull. Despite Clarke’s best efforts to appear delightful, dressed in a parade of fluoro and flower-patterned get-ups, her default expression of glee is defiantly grating.

Astonishingly uninventive despite its supposedly “difficult” subject, Me Before You doesn’t work hard enough to capture viewers’ heads, let alone their hearts. •½

IN CINEMAS NOW

Follow the Listener on Twitter or Facebook.