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Me Before You
No surprises here, except for the fact that this melodrama plays as winningly as it does.
Adapted from the book everybody seemed to love a few years ago, this is the story of a rich, paralyzed young man and the spunky young woman who comes to be his caretaker. Those of us of a certain age will remember when TV’s Lou Grant told Mary she had spunk. When she blushed with pleasure, he growled, “I hate spunk”.
The character Louisa Clark could so have incited the same reaction, at least in me. Wearer of poofy waist length knitted sweaters and crazy leotards, Louisa is a dear young thing who is nice to old ladies and believes she can turn this crabby paraplegic’s frown upside down. In the hands of a less skilled actress, she could have been a trite, grating nightmare. But Emilia Clarke, smartly taking on a role as different from Game of Thrones as could be, accomplishes the almost impossible. She makes us believe Louisa is much more than a stereotype. By the time she allows herself to truly fall in love with Sam Claflin’s William (oh, come on: don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming a mile away), we not only believe it, but find ourselves surprised to be rooting for her.
Clarke and Claflin have a lovely chemistry and should please fans of the book. And the English countryside is even lovelier than they are. By the time we wind up near the end of this neat little piece, though, there is an almost sudden, downright pungent (ish) moral turn. We all wind up thinking about the profound issue of euthanasia which, impressively, even as prettied up as it is here, is not the stuff of your usual romantic package.