Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and her eyebrows join super-hunk Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games series) in Me Before You, an emotionally manipulative pile of dreck that tries so very hard to make us feel anything, but generally winds up feeling more like the longest hour and 50 minutes of your entire life. Clarke plays Louisa Clark, a cute-as-a-button 20-something who just can't seem to keep a job despite how many weirdly over-expressive eyebrow maneuvers she utilizes or spunky/bizarre outfits she wears. This is a huge drag, because she's kind of trapped in a shitty life; her family is way poor, and she's supposed to help out, so when a temp job as a caretaker for a paraplegic comes her way, she's super desperate and takes it immediately. The wheelchair-bound Will Traynor (Claflin) somehow comes from royalty—though they never mention the specifics outside of his family owns a castle in their sleepy British town—and is a complete jerk.
Now, we could understand this jerkiness in that he's paralyzed, but not only is the backstory of how he became this way fleeting to a fault, we're apparently supposed to be moved by how Louisa eventually doesn't treat him any differently for it. What a hero she is! The more time they spend together, the more they fall in love, a ridiculous turn of events that surprises absolutely no one save Lou's boyfriend (a totally enjoyable Matthew Lewis of Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter fame, only now he's way hot), who we're supposed to not like because even though he treats her well, he's a little self-absorbed. This actually makes him the most believable character in the movie, and besides, it's a lame premise: "I'll teach you how to feel again, Will!"
And just when Lou is becoming comfortable enough with her job to sit on Will's lap and creep everyone out by blurring the lines of professionalism, we learn that Will wants to Kevorkian himself, and Me Before You transforms from quirky, albeit ludicrous, rom-com to heavy-handed sad-fest. Tears are shed, brows are furrowed, an absurd number of emotionally scored montages occur and the audience is left to roll their eyes, check their watches and wonder why the hell they didn't just go to see the new Ninja Turtles movie.
Lou must grapple between the excitement of a budding romance and doing what's right, although the moral and societal implications of assisted suicide take a backseat to hormonal angst, and the overall lesson—you've got to live, dammit!—is nothing even slightly new. It could be they're trying to point out that Lou herself is paralyzed in a way, but nobody cares, nor should they.
Oh, but it's not all bad. Ab Fab's Joanna Lumley pops in for a brief cameo, and Charles Dance (of the criminally underrated comedy The Last Action Hero and also some HBO show) looms around the Traynor mansion, being an actually good actor. Still, little is done to endear us to these characters, and almost everyone comes across as selfish. Whichever acting teacher taught Clarke to constantly twist her face into these inquisitive doe-eyed moron positions should be ashamed of themselves, and director Thea Sharrock (from a bunch of British things you've never heard of) should probably try harder to motivate her actors into performances as believable people. Avoid this movie at all costs—you've been warned.
Me Before You
Directed by Thea Sharrock
With Clarke, Claflin and Dance
Violet Crown, Regal