Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Matthew Lewis, Stephen Peacocke
Directed By: Thea Sharrock
Plot: Free spirit Lou (Clarke) gets a job as a caregiver to Will (Claflin), a wealthy, young, paralyzed man who has given up hope. Luckily, Lou has hope to spare.
What Works: A charming romantic drama headlined by two extremely likeable leads. Honestly, this whole cast really should be at least somewhat in the Oscar conversation. I know, it’s just some random adaptation of a novel. Why should it be considered? Well, Emilia Clarke is great. She just brings so much light to this film. Claflin manages to be charming, and likeable, even after his character is introduced as being grouchy and a bit of an ass. Even McTeer and Dance in supporting roles were really great. There’s some really great chemistry between Claflin and Clarke. The film builds up to a rather depressing finish, but you’re so invested in these characcters paths that it doesn’t make you angry, it just makes you sad. The fact that the film has an ability to break your heart like that is a testament to how well crafted these characters are by their actors.
What Doesn’t Work: I get that it’s a little sappy, and a little melodramatic, and that’s the reason Oscar snobs are looking over this, despite the strong performances. It’s the same reason that The Notebook didn’t get Oscar love. And as happy as it was to see Matthew Lewis in the film, I thought he didn’t quite have the depth to match the cast around him.
Final Word: Claflin and Clarke should be at the top of every casting directors list after this. Plus, I’d love to see them again together. They have a lot of chemistry that I’d love to see explored, maybe this time in a romcom. Me Before You is incredibly charming, despite a potentially depressing premise.
Final Grade: A-