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Me Before You

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Even if a movie isn’t great, if it’s sad I’ll still reach for my handkerchief. Well, nobody has carried a handkerchief since the Nixon Administration. I use the napkin that’s filled with all the salt and oils from the popcorn. Crying is not an indication of whether or not the movie is good. I cried my eyes out at The Fault in Our Stars, and it was far from being a great film. So when I tell you I cried in this, it means very little. How can your heart not break when you see parents (the terrific Charles Dance and Janet McTeer) sad about the accident that turned their son (Sam Claflin of Snow White and the Huntsman, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) into a quadriplegic?

This is based on the best-selling novel by Jojo Moyes (who also adapted the screenplay) and directed by first-timer Thea Sharrock.

One of the biggest problems the movie had was casting Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Terminator Genisys). She’s so giddy, and looks ridiculous in her various colorful outfits with animals all over them. It gets annoying quick. She does a lot of overacting, too.

She plays Luisa, who loses a job she loves at a local cafe. Her dad gives her a guilt trip, because he isn’t working and they needed the money. She quickly gets hired as a caretaker for a rich family, who wants her to help take care of their handsome son Will Traynor. He was a big-cheese financier, who also seemed to be an adrenaline junkie (mountain climbing, cliff diving, water skiing). That, and the fact that he loved traveling to Paris and sleeping with beautiful women, makes his life all the more depressing. Do you think Luisa will be able to cheer him up and get him out of his funk? Well, if you saw the commercials (or have seen more than 5 movies), you already know the answer to that. It’s a shame that the trailers gave away one of the sweetest moments you’ll see in a movie all year.

In one of the rare things that isn’t predictable about the film, there’s a male nurse named Nathan (played by Stephen Peacocke of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot). He does a lot of the heavy lifting in taking care of Will.

There were times the couple had chemistry. Often times, they didn’t. Perhaps that’s because he was so rude to her in the beginning. Maybe it’s because she just comes across as dense. There’s a difference between somebody being bubbly, or just being dim. One example of this would be her seven year relationship with a dopey guy (Matthew Lewis of Harry Potter) that’s only interested in his marathons. The director and screenwriter really needed to write this character better.

It’s also a bit goofy how it goes all “Educating Rita” — with Will taking her to hear Mozart, performed by a symphony, or watching foreign films that are subtitled.

The music in this movie is atrocious. There’s a score by Craig Armstrong that tries too hard, and songs by Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran that made me feel like I was watching music videos. Songs should be played in the background, and enhance the scenes. The actors aren’t there to accompany the song.

The movie does have its moments. There’s a wedding scene that works well, although you won’t be able to get over the fact that it would’ve never happened (who sends an invitation to their old boyfriend who still loves you, but is now a quadriplegic?).

There’s a brilliantly shot scene with the wheelchair getting stuck in the mud and guys coming over to help. You smile at strangers willing to help, but your heart breaks if you catch the grimace on Will’s face, knowing he has to rely on others just to get out of a parking lot.

The film delves into deeper issues in the third act, but with mixed results.

Special shout-out to a guy that worked on the best movie of last year — Ex Machina — and works with costumes and props in this: Sean Board (no relation, but I’ve always wanted to do a review where I mention a “Board”).

This gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.