ME BEFORE YOU — Review by Susan Granger

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Have you ever wondered why we like to cry at movies? It’s quite simple: when we’re watching a sad story, our brains cannot differentiate between actual people and the flickering images on the screen. And when we are emotionally engaged, we feel empathy, enlightenment, even empowerment. Since British novelist Jojo Moyes adapted her own best-seller for the screen, this romantic drama, directed by Thea Sharrock, stays remarkably close to the printed page, which tackles the difficult dilemma of euthanasia. That means it’s a real tearjerker. Read on...

Debonair London financier Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) is an avid sportsman until a traffic accident leaves him a quadriplegic. Two years later, he’s ensconced in his family’s massive ‘castle’ in the English countryside. In chronic pain, he’s become bitter, rude and jaded – and he needs a caregiving companion.

Cue clumsy, kind-hearted 26 year-old Louisa ‘Lou’ Clark (Emilia Clarke) who desperately needs a job and soon becomes determined to help Will. Conveniently, the ‘heavy lifting’ – bathroom/bathing needs – are handled by his physical therapist (Stephen Peacocke).

While Lou’s chatty, charming exuberance certainly enlivens his life, just as he teaches her to expand her provincial horizons, Will, nevertheless, seems determined to opt for assisted suicide in Switzerland.

And there’s not much his wealthy parents (Charles Dance, Janet McTeer), nor Lou’s working-class family (Brendan Coyle, Samantha Spiro), can do to make him change his mind.

British actress Emilia Clarke is best known as steely Daenerys Targaryen – a.k.a. Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons – in HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” while Sam Claflin scored in “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” and “The Hunger Games.” Tackling these complicated characters, they acquit themselves admirably, although the subplot involving Lou’s self-centered boyfriend (Matthew Lewis) falls flat.

Devotees of Jojo Moyes’ novel note that the author deleted a pivotal scene: the primary reason that Lou is so timid about venturing into the ‘outside’ world is because, years ago, she was sexually assaulted.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Me Before You” is a bittersweet 6, wallowing in the throes of simplistic melodrama.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.