Me Before You sets itself up to be a typical romantic tear jerker, aka a “chick flick”.
The movie portrays a growing relationship between a once tenacious man, who is paralysed, and a quirky young woman who is afraid to leave the comfort of a known life. Ultimately, as the trailer says, “he teaches her how to live and she teaches him to love.”
What sets this movie apart is the theme of acceptance around suicide. William Trayner (Will) shows his true tenacious personality in his decision to seek out assisted suicide. When Louisa Clark (Lou) catches wind of this, she tries to change his mind. With every attempt bringing Will closer to happiness, he could never be satisfied with this new existence and is afraid of holding Lou back.
The film gives an understanding of this multi-sided theme by dealing with the reactions delicately. Through different characters we get to learn the emotions something so challenging can make us feel.
Camilla Trayner, Will’s mum, takes us through a mother’s journey. She hasn’t come to terms with the disability itself and isn’t okay with losing her son. She devotes all her energy to finding a way to change his mind in the hope of keeping him until exhausted and ready to let go.
Steven Trayner, Will’s dad, understands his pain and knows the decision has to be Will’s. He plays the strong figure. Although deep down he isn’t okay, he knows he has to support his son and help his wife see the bigger picture.
Josie Clark, Lou’s mum, opposes the idea of euthanasia, branding it “as good as murder”. She is heavily against it and isn’t happy with Lou being in any part of it.
Katrina Clark, Lou’s sister, is the voice of reason and has a compassionate understanding of the situation. Her view is that you can’t possibly understand something you haven’t experienced – that there is no right to judge anyone’s decision if you aren’t in their shoes.
Lou feels abandoned – as if he was leaving her after letting her guard down for the first time allowing herself to get hurt. She calls him selfish when he tells her she cannot change his mind and says she wishes she’d never met him, showing how hurt she truly is. She experiences a roller coaster of emotions beginning with betrayal, but in time finds acceptance and learns the selfless attribution of Wills choice.
In the end, we are left feeling there isn’t one way; the film leaves the audience to make up its own mind. With a sense of comfort in knowing Lou gave Will what he needed, and he had done the same for her.
Watch the trailer below: