‘Me Before You’ Review

Directed by Thea Sharrock

Written by Jojo Moyes

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, and Brendan Coyle

★★☆

With “Me Before You” feature film newcomer Thea Sharrock – although she does have an extensive and impressive theater resume – brings a touching, sweet, sincere, and surprisingly funny love story to the big screen. “Me Before You” accomplishes a pretty rare feat for a romance drama, it is a lovely romance without managing to cross the line into pure sap. That is something that is important to keep in mind because when romantic movies get sappy, they can be unbearable to watch. It is a fine line between sweet and sappy.

Unfortunately for Emilia Clarke “Me Before You” is not a prestige romance movie, had it been a prestige romance then there it would have been very likely that we would be referring to her as Academy Award nominee Emilia Clarke. Clarke delivers a performance of that caliber, and hypothetically the studio could run a for your consideration campaign for Clarke, but it would get buried under the prestige pictures that come out at the end of the year that the studio pushes for the Oscar. The failure or success of “Me Before You” rests on the shoulders of Clarke’s performance, if she was not fantastic what you have is a much weaker movie that it turned out to be. Clarke sells the quirky yet sweet nature of her character, Louisa Clarke, while hitting all the necessary emotional beats that she needs to hit, Including a tender father/daughter moment between Clarke and Brendan Coyle. The supporting cast – including Brendan Coyle – were fantastic and provided excellent support for the two leads. Sam Claflin gave a fine performance, but he felt more replaceable than Clarke. “Me Before You” would not work without Clarke’s interpretation of the character, but it could have survived sans Claflin.

Thea Sharrock’s extensive theater background shows in how she directed the movie, and it is in the best way possible. Sharrock focused most of her energy directing “Me Before You” on directing the actors. Which, ultimately, is the job of a director. When directing a play, you can focus on directing the actors because in theater most of the story is told through the actors. While that still holds true for film, in film the portion of the story that relies on the actors is only half, as were the theater that portion is at least 75 percent.  Sharrock lets this movie live with the actors and their performances. A film like “You Before Me” needs to live with the actors, because with weak performances from the actors, the movie would be dull. “Me Before You” needed strong leads and it had them.

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