Note: This review covers the adaptation of the book to movie form. If you have not read the book, or even seen the movie, please understand that the review will contain spoilers as I will be discussing the translation of certain moments from page to screen. Thank you for your understanding.
Also, this review is entirely my opinion and observations.-TBW
What do you get when you combine Daenerys Targaryen, Finnick Odair, Tywin Lannister, Neville Longbottom, and a dash of Doctor Who’s Clara Oswald? The poignant and beautiful film that is Me Before You, of course.
As someone who positively loves all of these fandoms, the movie was a dream! And that isn’t even considering the fact that I absolutely loved Jojo Moyes’s book!
I do have a small confession to make before I get to the actual movie review: I didn’t know about the book before when I found out about the movie. In April 2015, just days before the fifth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones began, I was scrolling through IMDb and I clicked on Emilia Clarke’s profile. Curious about what other features she had been in, I looked through her filmography and I came across the entry for Me Before You when it was still in its early production phase. I read the synopsis and was blown away by the cast. I knew it had to be a great story to have attracted such an amazing cast. Five minutes later, I was reading the first chapter on my eReader. So, now, you could say that I love the film that inspired me to read the book which, in turn, I loved enough to see the movie adaptation. How is that for timey-wimey?
In all seriousness, though, I really did love the film. I have been anticipating it since the moment I finished the book for the first time (just a day after starting it) and I have talked it up for months. I was so excited that I went to the second thursday-night release showing that my local Carmike theater had after I got off work, my husband in tow. I was not disappointed.
As you may know, the script was written by Moyes herself, which assured me that the film was as true to the book as it could possibly be without being five hours long (although I would have been happy with that as well). While, yes, some parts of the story are missing, like Lou’s story in the maze and the fact that she and Patrick move in together, to name a few, trust me when I say that all of the key elements, the ones that truly matter, are there. Furthermore, I never felt that anything was rushed or lazily slapped together. I know that great care was taken for each scene to stay true to the source without being bogged down. It is important to remember here that what works for a book doesn’t always translate well on screen. They are two completely different mediums. Anyway, I digress.
One of the things I noticed the most in the months leading to the film’s release was discussion about casting. Many people feel that either Emilia or Sam aren’t the right fit for their respective roles; I disagree. Having watched the film for myself, I can’t imagine a better cast. Emilia beautifully conveyed Lou’s kind spirit and quirky personality. While I have watched and loved her as the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains in Game of Thrones, I was truly charmed by her earnest portrayal of a quixotic young woman who does her best to help everyone around her. Her performance was refreshing and spot on. Sam was equally convincing as the once dour and despondent Will. I feel like he did an especially fantastic job considering actors rely heavily on their body language as much as their words to produce a believable character; Sam was limited to facial gestures and tone to produce the desired effect. Not an easy feat at all and one that he simply dominated. As for the other characters, from Patrick to Treena to Mr. and Mrs. Traynor, I will say again that Director Thea Sharrock and Casting Director Kate Dowd did an absolutely ace job. I would also like to give a shoutout to the costume department, specifically for Lou’s wardrobe. Her quirky style was brilliant and accurately reflected both Louisa’s character and Moyes’s intentions. And the shoes! Those shoes were fantastic!
Again, I digress.
The most important thing, in my opinion, is that the film retains all of the heart and soul of the book. The feelings that the audience has as the credits roll are the same heartbreaking and tangled emotions that we readers felt as we closed the book on the final page. My biggest concern about the movie going in was whether or not the heartache in those final pages of the book would translate well on screen. Too often I have seen such emotional scenes fall flat when adapted to film or television. That was not the case here. Between Emilia and Sam alone, the emotion in that moment was charged and focused without being over-the-top and gaudy. Their mutual grief was simple, tasteful, and moving. While the film, like the book, left the actual moment of Will’s death to the audience’s imagination, the gravity of the situation echoed throughout those final moments, proving that the entire crew did their job perfectly. Less is indeed more.
I can count on one hand the number of films that I have considered perfect (or nearly perfect) adaptations of their respective source books. Me Before You is certainly one of them. I am so completely satisfied with the film and will be recommending everyone to go see it.
If this review isn’t enough to persuade you, consider these two things. First, my husband, who doesn’t “do chick flicks,” honestly enjoyed it: he laughed and emoted where appropriate and even brought it up in conversation, on his own, a few times after we left the theater. Second, I have already planned on seeing it again at least once, possibly twice, before it leaves theaters and even then I’ll buy it as soon as it’s available on DVD!
Me Before You (2016)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and New Line Cinemas
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Matthew Lewis, Jenna Coleman, Janet McTeer, and Charles Dance.
Directed By: Thea Sharrock
Screenplay By: Jojo Moyes
I hope you enjoyed my review of Me Before You! Have you already seen the film? What did you think? Please comment your thoughts below.
Remember: Live Boldly and Happy Reading!