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At the movies: Me Before You

June 28, 2016
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Me Before You movie poster

Since I enjoyed reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, I decided to see the movie with a friend.  I’m sure most people know Me Before You is the story of Will Traynor, a quadriplegic man who wants to end his life with assisted euthanasia.  His parents have convinced him to wait 6 months and then hire a caregiver who becomes determined to change his mind.

As I watched Me Before You, I enjoyed it.  It’s been a while since I read it but I thought it followed the book closely and I thought the casting, especially Emilia Clarke as Louisa, was spot on.  Of course, I cried and left the theater with a heavy feeling.  A few days later, I spoke with an acquaintance whose husband is a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair.  We had a long conversation about the book and her objections to it and I have been thinking about it ever since.  (She feels the book portrayed a disabled life as less fulfilling and it romanticized suicide.  She pointed out that she and her husband have been through a lot but he still has a good life.)  After talking to her, I see Will as a selfish person and feel his decision was a poor one.  Since then, I’ve read several articles that note the same things she did.  Now, I’ve got a lot to think about and I’m not sure whether I should recommend this movie or not.

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2016 6:30 am

    Qi liked the book very much. It struck a couple of chords with me as my husband is somewhat handicapped and gets about only on a wheelchair. His life is quite restricted as from the cars, to cinemas, banks, even the hospital toilet(!!) was too narrow for a wheelchair to go through. Talk about frustration. Now I look at the book in a different light.

  2. June 28, 2016 7:06 am

    I loved the book and plan to see the movie when it comes out on dvd. It’s funny, though. I don’t remember how I felt about Will’s decision while I was reading the book, but looking back now, I think his actions were pretty selfish.

  3. June 28, 2016 9:31 am

    I’ll probably wait to see this when it’s available on Netflix. Like Les, I think Will’s decision was selfish now, but don’t remember how I felt when I read the book. Strange…

  4. June 28, 2016 9:35 am

    I, too, loved the book. My wife and I go to over 60 movies a year. But since I cried when I saw a preview(!), I didn’t think I wanted to see this one. And so far I haven’t.
    We read this book for one of my book clubs. It was a very lively discussion. We were pretty much evenly split between thinking he was very selfish and saying he was selfless. And we even have a paraplegic as a book club member. But I don’t think any of us actually researched real-life situations. I know I didn’t. It was still a heck of a book.

  5. June 28, 2016 10:04 am

    I wonder if you have second thoughts about it because of what your friend said and so you are filled with guilt for enjoying something they have issues with. you should not feel this, and must enjoy it for what it is. I don’t buy into the arguments against this movie because it is a story, simple as that. how many books have you read about able bodied people who are selfish? many I would think. Would you suddenly not enjoy them because somebody told you that the character was selfish?

  6. June 28, 2016 10:37 am

    I think the book is good from the point that it is a great book club read. I definitely see both sides and the debate/discussion would be powerful. I didn’t think the book was that romanticized but I’m sure the movie was. I’m sad you have a different feel now. I do think reading or watching Me Before You could come with a ‘warning’ maybe. I still respect his choice.

  7. June 28, 2016 10:59 am

    I haven’t seen it yet.

  8. June 28, 2016 11:54 am

    When I read the book, I recall enjoying it, but also feeling depressed and frustrated by the challenges and how the characters dealt with them. So I’ve been on the fence about the movie.

    I’ll probably see it when it comes on DVD.

    Thanks for sharing….

  9. June 28, 2016 12:23 pm

    This isn’t a book or movie for me.

  10. Patty permalink
    June 28, 2016 1:31 pm

    I could not read the book so I probably should avoid this movie, too.

  11. Melissa permalink
    June 28, 2016 2:19 pm

    I purposely avoided any reviews or articles between finishing the book (which was last month) and seeing the movie. I LOVED the chemistry between the actors in the movie and I already knew the end was the same as the book. I knew the actor playing Will was able-bodied and thought it was a stretch for him to play someone that was paraplegic. Over a week after seeing the movie, I started reading a few articles and I acknowledge the opinions of those that are objecting to the movie. I saw it as fiction and I let myself escape in the story of the two characters. Anyone else think that Sam Claflin looks like a little like a young Hugh Grant from his rom-com movies in the 90’s?

  12. June 28, 2016 4:20 pm

    I have yet to read the book

  13. June 28, 2016 8:16 pm

    I haven’t read the book, but I probably will see the movie at some point. Sounds like it provides much food for thought.

  14. June 28, 2016 11:36 pm

    I liked the book a lot as well as the follow-up book. It gave me a lot to think (and talk) about. This was an excellent post Kathy. I wan to see the movie now.

  15. Beth F permalink
    June 29, 2016 6:11 am

    Wow — I remember loving that book, but now I will see the movie in a new light. Like JoAnn, I’ll wait to see it on Netflix or some streaming service.

  16. June 29, 2016 8:33 am

    I’ve been reading a lot of the articles you alluded to about what the book/movie says about being disabled and having a fulfilling life. I didn’t think about that when I read the book — I was mostly just turned into a sobbing mess of a person through the end — but they’ve certainly made me re-evaluate the story. I think that’s a good thing 🙂

  17. June 29, 2016 11:01 am

    At any rate, it sounds like it might be an excellent book club discussion! I think the movie trailers have made it seem more like a romance than a take on disability and how it is too awful to live with. But that’s trailers for you. I haven’t read the book, so I reserve opinion on that.

  18. June 29, 2016 2:31 pm

    I didn’t read the book thinking it had the message that suicide is the only answer for someone in Will’s condition – it just happened to be the way he chose (and yes, he was thinking only of himself). I’ll see the film but probably at home. I’ve spoken to a couple of people who saw the film and they loved it. Thought it followed the book closely.

  19. Ryan permalink
    June 30, 2016 12:09 am

    I’ve never read the book, or seen the movie, but I have been paying attention to the criticism. What’s bugged me about that aspect, is the fact that everyone seems to be forgetting that this is the fictional story of one man.

  20. July 1, 2016 1:25 am

    I loved the book and enjoyed the movie, but the criticism did make me see the story in a new light. I can understand the frustrations viewers have with the material. It’s interesting that there was no backlash really with the book though. The way they marketed the film like this epic romance I bet many viewers were very upset with the ending.

  21. July 1, 2016 8:26 pm

    I hope you go back and link this to my June post! Not that I’ve seen it yet, lol. We were going to go on Sunday and it was already gone from our local theaters. When I read the book, I was sad by Will’s decision, but still respected his right to make it. I think most people that commit suicide are being selfish, but in the end you are the one making decisions about your own life and people have a right to be selfish.

  22. July 2, 2016 11:25 am

    I was torn with the story when I read the book and do want to see the movie…mostly because I want to discuss it with my husband. He won’t read the book but he will watch the movie with me.

  23. July 2, 2016 8:00 pm

    I know what you mean. I loved the book when reading it but it always bothered me that he had to be portrayed as someone who believed death was the only option, esp since he had a lot of people who loved him. That said, I wanted to respect Will’s decision as well. There have been people who did what he did and I wanted to understand them.

  24. bookingmama permalink
    July 7, 2016 2:17 pm

    Very interesting take. I’ve seen a lot of the criticism of the story these past few weeks. I loved the book, but I don’t disagree that Will was selfish.

  25. sbwritingsite permalink
    August 31, 2016 8:19 pm

    There is another book by Jojo Moyes titled, “After you.” Check it out if you haven’t already.

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