Director: Thea Sharrock (2016)
Get your hankies at the ready for this modern day old fashioned romantic weepie.
Based on the best selling novel by Jojo Moyes, it’s derivative, sentimental and impervious to the charms of subtlety. But it is effective.
Two fabulously attractive young people are brought together by tragedy. Once they’ve fallen in love those same circumstances threaten to tear them apart.
Sporty banker William loses the use of his legs and arms while lowly waitress Louisa loses her job. Their fates collide when she takes a job as his carer.
Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin have a hugely engaging chemistry and the film succeeds on the strength of their charm and talent.
The puppyish enthusiasm of Clarke and her incredibly expressive eyebrows contrast nicely with Claflin’s remarkably still sneer.
William teaches Louisa culture and she helps him lighten up. But his strong views on his condition threatens to cast a permanent shadow on their potential happiness.
It’s best imagined as a British version of Pretty Woman (1990) where Richard Gere is in a wheelchair and Julia Robert’s hooker is now an obliging nurse played by the ditzy younger sister of Bridget Jones (2001).
A snow clad castle dominates the chocolate box scenery as they visit the races and a concert of classical music.
It would be too easy to mock the One Nation Tory politics underpinning this twist on the Cinderella story.
It’s a fairytale world where the landed gentry casually bestow jobs on the feckless and bitter unemployed working classes. Plus there’s a singular avoidance of the practical hardships of being quadriplegic.
However Me Before You doesn’t pretend or aspire to be a movie with a social conscience.
There isn’t any ambition beyond making you smile through a bucket of tears and on that score it’s an undoubted success.
Charles Dance and Janet McTeer provide gravitas as William’s parents and Dr Who’s Jenna Coleman appears as Louisa’s single parent sister. Joanna Lumley breezes through as a fragrant wedding guest.
Clarke is famed for her frequent nudity on TV’s Game of Thrones but here keeps her curves under wraps.
This tearjerker won’t be the last performance which has Clarke’s fans reaching for the tissues.