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Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke Shine in ‘Me Before You’

© by W.B. Pictures

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, Me Before You follows 26-year-old kooky small-town lass Lou Clark who is in desperate need of a job. When the offer to care for wealthy quadriplegic Will Traynor comes up, Lou can’t afford to refuse.

It’s a slow burn romance with wheelchair-bound Will initially being unpleasant and snarky before Lou’s big personality and kitschy fashion sense begin to melt his icy exterior and the pair begin to bond. All seems to be going swimmingly until Lou learns that Will promised his parents he would stay alive for six months before venturing to Switzerland for voluntary euthanasia. Determined not to let that happen, Lou aims to try and change his mind.

Say what you want about Me Before You, but there’s a certain charm to the film that draws you in. Perhaps because it’s quintessentially a British romance flick. With the filming largely taking place in Pembroke and a quick cameo from Joanna Lumley, something about Me Before You felt quite homely to me.

Me Before You did what it set out to do. It made me root for Lou and for a happy ending and when that didn’t happen, I had tears streaming down my face. But none of that would have happened if it wasn’t for Claflin and Clarke’s undeniable chemistry. The pair carried the movie with their dark and humorous rapport, but both delivered powerful performances in heavy, emotional scenes.

Clarke, absent of her Thrones dragon trio, was wholly believable as sweet, offbeat Lou. Forget the bold wardrobe and bumblebee tights, it was Clarke’s eyebrows that had my full attention. Those things are utterly perplexing and take you on an emotional roller coaster with just one arch! Emilia Clarke got a chance to prove that she was more than the Mother of Dragons and she didn’t disappoint.

Me Before You throws in other familiar Brit faces too. Janet McTeer and Clarke’s Westeros pal Charles Dance play Will’s parents. Former Doctor Who companion Jenna Coleman offers support as Katrina, Lou’s sister, and Harry Potter alum Matthew Lewis occasionally sprints into scenes as Lou’s marathon-running, limp noodle of a boyfriend.

With red dresses, Mozart concerts, a day at the racetrack and a sun-filled trip to Mauritius, there was a realness to Me Before You and it’s two charming leads that previous cynical tearjerkers like The Fault in Our Stars didn’t have. It’s not pretentious, it’s not try-hard, it knows what audience it’s pandering to.

While I’m not going to spoil the ending, (There’s plenty of folks that’ll do that for you instead!) I found it a believable enough decision.

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