Usually it is not my preference to review anything I haven’t seen before. Unlike Frozen, which lured me in with the guise of being an innocent Disney movie and I should’ve known better, Me Before You was a horribly bad joke that had me cringing from the beginning. Honestly, I can’t bring myself to even watch this drek. Morally I can not. What wounds me even more is the swarm of mindless puppets that give this farce a halfway decent review, claiming it to be sweet and inspirational. Even as I write this I swear I could vomit. Yet, maybe I’m getting away with myself. First, let’s look at the synopsis of this film.
“Me Before You” follows Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) as she begins a new job that involves caring for a quadriplegic, Will Trainer (Sam Claflin), with whom she begins to form a bond with. Once she discovers that Will is planning on committing assisted suicide in six months, she begins to create a schedule of activities and trips that they can take together in hopes of changing his mind on what he’s capable of. As she works hard to reintroduce him to the world again, he also shows her a new side of life by pushing her to dream and enjoy a life that’s bigger than their small town.
[Spoiler Alert:] He dies. I’m certain the author of this awful, cringe-worthy opiate, Jojo Moyes, intended it to be far more elegant and inspiring but it isn’t. The thing is, it isn’t just the thought that being disabled is so terrible that suicide becomes a favorable option. It’s the attempted spin that this is a sacrifice for the ones you love. With this hamfisted attempt at a feel good story, for as many as you are trying to inspire with your warm-fuzzies, you are telling that many people that such an act is noble or even acceptable.
From what I have gathered, most of it is to the wonderful article by Steven Spohn titled “I Am Not Your Plot Device” (which if your are taking the time to read this you should really check out as he words many of my concerns far better than I could and has a bit more experience on the topic), Me Before You is guy gets borked (yup, technical term) and girl wants to convince him to not off himself because she loves him despite his borkedness (still a technical term). That’s all well and good. I like this. Acceptance of an individual is nice. But it seems that’s not enough to keep an audience hooked these days. The guy is still miserable because he is borked (not giving up on declaring it a technical term) and still wants to go through offing himself because now he wants the girl to be happy and not have to deal with him too. Thus we close with everything being ok because we want to spin this as a noble act and give the audience/reader the warm-fuzzies that they are so obviously starved for in this bleak world we live in.
Apologies for being unable to keep a serious tone but part of me needs to make fun of this. The straight truth of it is far too painful for me. Due to that, I feel the need to add some levity to it all. It hurts less when your laughing. Every disabled individual has experienced extreme disparaging doubt or depression at one point or another (citation needed). There is no way to compare yourself to the rest of the world or even have a good measure of your worth based on those standards. When I see someone in a wheelchair in film, television, or even books, I get excited. I get excited because that represents me. Well, it doesn’t exactly but I doubt I’m ever going to see an accurate representation of myself anywhere in media ever. It’s enough to connect. With Me Before You, I see myself and then I see the darker side of myself. I see all the pain and struggling I’ve been through and I have yet to face. Except, in this story, it’s not the me who triumphed. It’s not even the me who got to enjoy a small victory when everything is a push. It’s the one who gave in. It’s the me who not only lost but felt guilty about trying. I don’t see why that should be celebrated. That’s not a feel good or even close to a warm-fuzzy for me.
The other issue I have with Me Before You, not to mention the conceited title, is as Steven Spohn called it. It pigeon holes disabled people into the role of being inspirational. Not a single one of us are meant to be inspirational (citation needed). I choose to try and inspire others and set things right because I choose to. That’s my warm-fuzzy. If anyone reads my blog and feels a little better or inspired to take on the world or even one more day, I’m glad. I write in part for myself and another part in the hopes that it offers something to someone else who needs it. I was never meant to be inspirational. I never asked for it and in some cases I even turn it down. I may not fit the quadriplegic character but as someone who views the world from a wheelchair, this sends an unrealistic message to and about those with disabilities.
It has been mentioned that the author did not interview or do much research before writing their story though I feel as it would be hypocritical of me to address it in much detail as I am writing this without wasting my time and the film adaptation of their book. All I can say that the premise alone makes me feel deeply uncomfortable and isn’t the model I’d want to grow up with let alone any disabled individual after me. I’m not strong for living with a disability. I’m just me and I hold high respect for those who’s life drastically changes with an accident or some other event that leads to a disability. No one asked for this (citation not required). To those who have had their life suddenly change when they got their disability, I solute your adaptability. I can say, at the very least, that is one quality that makes you awesome. For those of us start with a disability from the beginning, we got a head start. It’s nice to have models similar to us in media. They can be our heroes. Yet, Me Before You is not one of those models. It’s not inspiring and it’s not worth a second more of my time.