MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by Thea Sharrock. Starring Emilia Clarke, Sam Ciaffin
The basic plotline of Me Before You (based on a bestselling novel by Jojo Moyes)is the kind of fantasy that could be imagined by a precocious 8-year-old. Louisa (Clarke), a spunky salt-of-the-earth working class girl, loses her job at the village bakery only to be hired to be the caretaker of Will Traynor (Ciaffin), a lonely, bitter, and extremely handsome man of privilege, recently paralyzed when hit by a motorcycle while crossing the street. His parents are extremely wealthy and their estate sits alongside of a castle that the family also owns. The girl will not have to do much serious caregiving, since there is a nurse that comes every day to tend to Will’s medical needs. There is also a cook on the estate that can provide the meals. Louisa does know how to make a great cup of tea.
In many ways Me Before You resembles a tween and sanitized version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Imagine the possibilities that could be yours if you fell in love with a millionaire. Oh, the places you’d go! And if you could just love someone enough with all of your heart, you just might be able to break through that wall of despair and self-loathing to reveal that wonderful, beautiful, person that was there all along.
The film benefits richly due to the performance of Emilia Clarke as Louisa. Clarke made a name for herself as Daenerys Targaryen, the dragon queen on HBO’s Game of Thrones,but her character in this movie lives in another world altogether. Lou is filled with a positive spirit of love and possibilities with an eclectic thrift shop wardrobe to match. Her main objective for work is to contribute to her family’s welfare (she still lives at home in a modest flat) and allow her big sister to move to the big city and fulfill her dreams. She confronts Will’s moodiness with encouragement and patience, refusing to quit. She is the embodiment of the apostle Paul’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13.
Some have criticized this film for presenting quadriplegia in such a negative light, but this attitude is a part of Will Traynor’s worldview and informs the storyline in a consistent fashion. As a church that is open and affirming to people of all abilities, followers of Christ do not have to follow suit.
Love does not always conquer despair, but romantic movies offer the kind of escapist entertainment that provides some solace in anxious times. Me Before You has a few surprises in store for the viewer cooked into its formulaic stew.
Two halos: A charming lead character and a sense of humor help to distinguish an otherwise predictable romance movie.
Two pitchforks: Mild swearing; an opening scene with mild sexual implications; romanticized depression.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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