Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
Me Before You
The film "Me Before You," adapted from the novel by JoJo Moyes and helmed by theater director Thea Sharrock, is compelling in spite of Hollywood kitsch, due to the authenticity of Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Sam Claflin.
Here we are in the English countryside hued with all the sugary tints of Roger Michell's "Notting Hill." The quirky Louisa (Clarke) inexplicably loses her job at a bakery and tea shop. Deflated, she mopes about, mainly spending time with her boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis) a self important fitness nerd.
Then at the unemployment office she finds an opening. An entrepreneur, now a quadraplegic, needs an aide. Louisa has no home health experience but that doesn't matter, especially in most mainstream cinema. The job pays well.
On the first day, Louisa meets the dashing but sarcastic Will Traynor (Claflin), a banking whiz and adventurer. After going into a shocking impression of actor Daniel Day-Lewis as the poet Christy Brown who had cerebral palsy, things go from tense to bad with Will refusing to talk to Louisa beyond monosyllables.
Good God, what on earth will happen next?
While the romantic cues are all too easy to predict, Emilia Clarke is amusing and very believable as the colorfully garbed Louisa who tries to get a spark out of the chisel faced Will. Claflin is vibrant too, as the lost and self centered Will, who feels shit upon by fate.
The cinematography by Remi Adefarison bears an odd resemblance and tone to "Fifty Shades of Grey" in its long lingering shots of bedsheets and stark corridors. In both films there are icy businessmen who yeild control. Will, like Christian Grey, is stern and cold.
Louisa tries her best to revive Will's cutting and cynical front. There is one blaze of a red dress that melts his isolation from the realm of adrenaline and adventure. Though the cliches are well in force, Claflin and Clarke have a rapport that is fun to watch. At a party scene when Will gets the last word against the clueless fitness nerd Patrick, it is a snarkily entertaining just desserts. Satisfying too, is the dance at a reception, with Louisa in Will's lap as she makes bawdy jokes at his ex's expense. Shmaltzy as it is, it works because of the chemistry. Will and Louisa always get the last word and while this is false in life, it is comfortably true in the cinema.
The film is revelant merely through its subject, though it begs for more kinetic intimacy, if not sex. Even with its one glaring sap moment, the film can be forgiven in favor of the letter scene with its tints of "Fifty Shades" dominance and control. Will, the man, is in command as he orders Louisa to Paris to buy his favorite perfume.
Will Traynor remains highly torqued and selfishly exerts authority which makes "Me Before You" in its bright tones of a hopeful circus, quietly subversive.
Write Ian at email@example.com.