Me Before You Jan 23, 2017 14:25:43 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jan 23, 2017 14:25:43 GMT -5
Me Before You (2016)
Directed by: Thea Sharrock
Directed by: Thea Sharrock
Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke in Me Before You.
Thea Sharrock's Me Before You proves that mainstream studios are not only uninterested in making films that tackle mental illness or physical handicaps with any sort of respect or realism, but they are entirely incapable of making ones that don't feel manufactured or forced.
The mawkish sensibilities present in Me Before You are almost as gross and as foolhardy as Sharrock and cinematographer Remi Adefarasin painting every image in the film as antiseptic and photogenic. Moments of the paralyzed main character suffering or going through a bout of proclaiming his cynical perspective need to be portrayed like a soap-opera, with deep orchestration so we precisely know how we should feel in these moments. Don't forget that the characters, no matter how downtrodden or unfortunate the circumstance, must look like models in their lovely outfits that help direct our eyes to their porcelain skin and delicate features. This film is about as shallow and as decorated as an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
The film revolves around Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke), a woman in her mid-20's seeking a job as an in-home caregiver upon being laid off from the cafe she slaved at for years. She comes across Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), a bitter ex-banker who is completely paralyzed following a motorcycle accident. The two are as opposite as you can get; while she is perky and energetic, he is more conservative and always quick to burst her bubble. Despite Louisa having a boyfriend - the always-away Patrick (Michael Lewis) - she becomes immersed in Will's life, to the point where when she hears he's considering assisted suicide practices, she decides to drop everything and remind him of his will to live. She takes him all across the world, enriching him with experiences like a Mozart concert to traveling to Mauritius to experience a different side of the world.
Such is the life when you're not only crippled and wheelchair-bound, but also have enough expendable money to fly across the globe and experience things for the first time in a "bucket list" fashion. It also must be absolutely wonderful to be able to have the time to do such things, as well, having enough comfortable income not to work and secure health insurance making it so you don't have to worry about how you might have to pay for prolific doctor visits or the rising cost of your equipment. Such is the life indeed.
Me Before You is exactly the kind of superficial trite the American public swoons over; it offers them the kind of paltry escapism they'd prefer to watch rather than something of similar sort that's more maturely or realistically portrayed. Consider Manchester by the Sea a terrific, well-acted drama that's as gloomy as grief and functional depression often is. In that film, we watch Casey Affleck's character resist the urge to lie in bed all day and actually go about his day, taking care of his nephew and desperately trying to remain competent and reliable even though he's struggling. I'm floored to see box office reports of people actually going and seeing the film over something like Collateral Beauty, which looks to suffer from the same sort of "beautiful illness" syndrome Me Before You suffers from.
But Me Before You's critical and financial success still shows that there is a market for these kind of emotional manipulative, arguably unhealthy pictures that paint illness and handicaps as a minor setback that will no longer stop those who suffer so long as some angel enters their life and reminds them that life is indeed worth living. Here, it doesn't even feel like Louisa is genuinely concerned, much less in love, with Will and his emotions. It seems as if this is nothing more than a choice encounter that gives Louisa an opportunity to be daring and selfish, neglecting her own boyfriend, while being a godsend to Will, a thoroughly contemptible character, in a meet-cute, "ableist" manner.
Me Before You, in some respects, makes me sick, as it's nothing more than a Nicholas Sparks film adaptation caustically and nonsensically assembled with cliches and contrivances populating a promising premise. Through its own incompetence, it explores how we, the public, have failed in being able to approach a film with this subject matter with an ability to look at it as it is, or at least in a way that doesn't resort to beautifying the inherently ugly. The first step is admitting that this is an unfortunate situation for the characters and gradually looking at what makes it unfortunate through deep moments of tender, human characterization. Me Before You discards that in hopes we'll, once again, accept a tired portrayal of physical handicap and believe in a moral we've heard too many times before.
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, and Janet McTeer. Directed by: Thea Sharrock.