Me Before You: A Film Review.

A/N: Be warned, there are spoilers ahead and I have not read the book yet! 

There are many things that a person can learn from another.

The same goes for Louisa Clark and Will Traynor, the two are pushed together in a heartbreaking set of events that ends Will in a wheelchair and Louisa becomes his care giver and friend. Prior to his accident, Will was an ambitious, adventurous and fun loving man, he had a girlfriend, a very well paid job and his life seemed devoid of pain. After, he is severely injured and is unable to move from the neck down. He has little feeling throughout the rest of his body and is plagued by nightmares, wishing he could return to the old life he had. Then, he meets Louisa Clark.

Louisa is a cheerful and insightful young woman; her clothes are bright and strange, but wonderful like her personality. She gains the job from Will’s mother and at first the two do not get along. She is very hopeful and talkative, she wants to help and cheer Will up, but he pushes her away. Louisa is kind and giving, she does whatever is asked of her, but is not a pushover. Often, she snaps back at Will and for the first time in two years since his accident, Will meets someone who speaks her mind, even around him and is not afraid to tell him that he’s a jerk.

They become friends over time; she watches films with him and helps him with his medication. They share childhood stories and read books together. Slowly, little by little, he begins to see her in a different way. Or rather, she begins to see how he saw her from the moment he met her. A spark in the darkness, the reason he wants to get up in the morning. As dismal and cliché as that may sound, for someone in his predicament, suffering not only physically but emotionally, it is not strange that a person could change his life. Over the six months that she stays with him, she begins to see how sick he is, he can’t do anything for himself, he is in pain without his medication, he cannot feel or touch anyone. Without the help of others, he wouldn’t even be able to get out of bed.

Over the course of the film, it is said that Will wants to end his life. Louisa sets out with a bucket list and tries to brighten up Will’s life, to make him see that there are things worth living for. In turn, they end up falling in love and share passionate kisses, romantic moments at his friend’s wedding, on a trip to Mauritius where he breaks the news to Louisa. Despite how happy she makes him and how wonderful their time has been, he cannot keep living the way he is. He loves her that is clear as day, their adventures have been fun, they’ve been on walks, up to the peaks of his house (a freaking castle!), horse riding, swimming, he watched her scuba diving, they went sightseeing and dancing, but living the way he is, is causing him too much pain. He wants to be the man she deserves and she tries to show him that he is the man she wants. But nothing can change his mind.

I have not read the book and I do want to. But at the moment, I do not think reading such stories are good for my emotional state at the moment. However, the film was beautiful. Everyone was crying, it was heartwarming, bittersweet and cheerful during the lighter parts. Louisa makes the story such an experience and this no doubt, thanks to the actors and actresses, but also the director and crew. Will decides to take the trip to Switzerland and go ahead with his decision. In a beautiful, but utterly heartbreaking scene, Will lies with his parents sitting next to him, and Louisa by his side as he passes.

This ending has been the topic of criticism, but personally, while I understand the anger behind those who have opposed it (that not all those with disabilities are unable to keep living their lives), I do sympathize with Will’s decision. I have seen two people in my family rendered paralyzed or have suffered severely that their quality of life post accident or illness, would not have been clear, easy or at all the same. They would have suffered greatly, and we were told there was little they could’ve have done to help my relatives live a little easier. It is a controversial topic and taking a life is a serious thing to do, but to do so, you do have to meet a certain criteria and it is safer (not less painful or heartbreaking for those involved), but at least it is in the safety of a secure place and the person does not feel pain.

I understand how those who are or have been in or have friends/family in a similar position to Will would feel anger at the book’s and film’s ending. Having a disability does not equate to death, if you do not want it to, but the message of the book and film are not saying: if this happens to you, you’ll only be happy if you end your life. The book and film are trying to open people’s eyes to those who are living a life of suffering, in whatever circumstance and do not wish to keep living if it’s becoming a hellish world they are staying in.

They are not saying this only in the case of Will’s, but in all cases. If a person’s life is that awful, so awful that getting up in the morning is something they’d rather not do, if every waking minute of their day is full of physical pain and mental torture, then would you be able to stand by and watch them live, suffering?

I know I wouldn’t.

The film’s ending had me in tears and though, I would’ve liked him to live, this was his choice and we have to respect that. If anything, this film and book do each us one thing and that is to live your life to the fullest, for life can be taken just as easily as it is given.

Live well.

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