“I will never, ever regret the things I’ve done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.”
Based on Jojo Moyes‘ 2012 best-selling book and directed by Thea Sharrock, Me Before You tells the story of a 26-year-old girl from a small English town, Lou Clarke (Emilia Clarke), who has just lost her job in her local cafe. With only one option left at the job centre, Lou is employed as a carer by the wealthy Traynor family, despite having no skills or experience, to help support her struggling family. Here, Lou is placed in charge of Will (Sam Claflin), a once successful man who enjoyed all aspects of his life, who is now a quadriplegic, paralysed from the neck down after being involved in an accident. As Lou attempts to show Will what life can be like if he opens his mind, Will encourages Lou to live her life to the fullest as an unexpected relationship blossoms.
The following post is a review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book. You can read my review of the book on its own here.
Me Before You is a story impossible not to fall in love with. If you’ve read the book beforehand, then you will be eager to see the beautifully crafted Lou and Will come to life; if not, then prepare to fall in love and just as quickly have your heart broken like never before.
The book is one of those reads that, even though you know what’s going to happen in the end, you can’t help but be filled with hope. Even before there’s any inclination of romantic feelings from either character, it’s obvious that Will and Lou have a deep connection, and their emotions are explored so well that you can really get inside both of their minds.
It is this engagement with the characters that led me to tears more than once and, whilst there have been some criticisms about how the story ends (which I discuss more in my book review), one thing that cannot be faulted is the way these characters are developed.
Having such a brilliantly written book to work from, it is their chemistry that makes this film adaptation such a heart-warming, tear-jerker of a romance.
Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke play Will and Lou perfectly, with the film adaptation capturing their characters individually and their developing relationship perfectly, and it is because they are so likeable and easy to invest in that make this such a wonderful story to see unfold.
Just like with the book, I spent much of the film crying like a baby, as well, and cannot recommend both the book and the film enough for fans of this genre.
Differences From The Book:
For the most part, Me Before You is a brilliant adaptation, but it does miss out on some of the key scenes from the book. Here are the main differences:
- Patrick is a bit too energetic in the film. In the book, he is more distant and selfish, and you constantly wonder why Lou is even with him. In the film, however, he’s almost likeable.
- In the book, Lou gets Will a device so that he can write letters, and he writes her a note for her birthday. This is not included in the film.
- When Lou takes Will horse racing, she is forced to ask a group of “lads” to help get Will’s wheelchair out of the mud in the book. She does this by telling them that he is a war hero so that they won’t tease Will’s disability. This scene is not in the film.
- In the book, Lou wears the red dress twice. First to the concert, and again at the wedding. She only it wears it to the concert in the film.
- In the book, Will and Louisa get matching tattoos, after Will encourages her to live a little. Although Emilia Clarke did get one in real life, this scene was not in the film.
- In the book, Louisa joins a quadriplegic chat room as she searches for the perfect holiday, enlisting the help from the internet and gaining opinions from people in similar situations to Will. This is not in the film, either.
- In the book, Will’s Dad has an affair, and Lou catches him with another woman. This doesn’t happen in the film, and his parents actually seem a lot closer, whereas it is hinted at in the book that both Will and Will’s mother have known all along.
- Will also has a sister, Georgina, in the book, who constantly moans that it isn’t fair that she has to put her plans on hold to care for her brother. Georgina is not included in the film.
- The biggest storyline to be missed out from the film is around a flashback which involves Lou getting sexually assaulted at the age of 20. In the book, this is why Lou is afraid to enter the maze at the castle, which she opens up to Will about. None of this is even mentioned in the film.
- In the book, Lou moves in with Patrick, but they break up and she moves into Will’s house instead. None of this happens in the film.
- On their holiday, when Lou confesses her feelings to Will, she tells him that she loves him in the book. In the film, these words aren’t actually said.
- When Lou tells Patrick about Will’s plan to end his life, in the book, Patrick tells the press and Lou and the Traynor’s have to deal with a lot of hassle after Will’s assisted suicide.
- In the book, Lou’s mum tells her that she is not welcome back in their house if she goes to help Will. Since she does, Lou has to move out, although the book doesn’t go into detail about this as it ends promptly after.
Me Before You is incredibly easy to engage with, both on the page and on-screen. With two beautifully crafted lead characters, Lou and Will are a joy to follow, and it is their chemistry that will keep your eyes fixed on the screen.
Read the book and the film, in whichever order you prefer, and fall in love with them both equally.