Movie Review – ‘Me Before You’

“Whether blonde or brunette, Emilia Clarke’s Hollywood stock continues to rise outside the Seven Kingdoms. And rise fast.”

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

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In this year’s most charming romance film so far, “Me Before You” brings an impressive array of happiness, joy, laughter and, yes, even sadness to a young couple.  Based upon the 2012 best-selling page-turner from romance author Jojo Moyes, this movie’s love story emerges from an abundance of authenticity and warmth between a wealthy thirtysomething quadriplegic and his new personal aide in the hillsides outside London.

From the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones”, dragon queen Emilia Clarke is barely recognizable as the enthusiastic caretaker Louisa Clark.  She superbly portrays a fun-loving Brit determined to remain upbeat around a sullen, withdrawn William Traynor (Sam Claflin), who’s hell-bent on focusing only on what he’s missed out on in life after a tragic accident.  Together, a patient, but well-paced and heartfelt courtship innocently develops into something more.  Much more.

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Exquisite acting performances throughout compliment and underscore the film’s seriousness and plight facing Claflin’s wheelchair-bound character.  It thoughtfully brings up William’s arduous end of life considerations while dramatically illustrating the unpleasant burdens placed upon the young man, his family and those inside his innermost circle of trust.

Television fans will see a reunion take place between Clarke and her past “Game of Thrones” costar Charles Dance (who played Tywin Lannister).  Notwithstanding smaller parts from Dance and Academy Award nominee Janet McTeer (for 1999’s “Tumbleweed”) as William’s distraught parents, both film veterans nicely raise the bar and overall believability of the movie.

Avid romance readers will take solace knowing that the English author and two-time Romantic Novel of the Year Award winner Moyes wrote the film’s screenplay, ensuring a seamless adaption from book to big-screen.  One of the movie’s most enchanting elements that Moyes orchestrates is seeing an icy, stoic William melt under Louisa’s continual warmth and giddy personality.  The movie highlights the notion that we can choose to be happy if we allow ourselves to be.  Helping to make that happen is the importance of surrounding ourselves with hopeful and cheerful people.

Never mind that “Me Before You” telegraphs it’s every scene.  Although the plotline’s twists and turns may not surprise many viewers along this roller coaster ride, the adventure remains delightfully entertaining to watch despite an overall serious theme and endgame.

Whether blonde or brunette, Emilia Clarke’s Hollywood stock continues to rise outside the Seven Kingdoms.  And rise fast.  As the dynamic and mesmerizing Daenerys Targaryen on television’s hottest show, the two-time Emmy Award nominee can too easily leave critics to marvel only at her Esquire magazine’s 2015 Sexiest Woman Alive win.  But that shortsightedness misses the mark on Clarke’s ample versatility and acting chops on the big and small screens.

Grade: B+

“Me Before You” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some suggestive material.  Its running time is 1 hour and 50 minutes.

© 2016, Patrick. All rights reserved.



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