Me Before You

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Me Before You Movie Poster Image
Touching but manipulative romantic drama about life, death.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 110 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 30 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

You can't control what someone else does, thinks, or feels; you can simply love them and have compassion for them. Also: Make the most of your life, because it's the only one you've got.  Always be open to new experiences, and keep an open mind when dealing with difficult people. (Possible spoiler!) Will represents a view that life isn't worth living if you're disabled, which many find problematic and/or offensive. But Lou fights hard to promote the opposite message.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Louisa is deeply empathetic and optimistic; she prefers to look on the bright side of life, even when it's actually dreary and tragic. Will, despite his melancholy and frequent rudeness, eventually opens himself up to friendship and love, though some viewers may (possible spoiler!) take issue with the fact that he believes that life isn't worth living if you're disabled. Lou and Will's parents' want what's best for their kids, and their love for them is clear. Patrick means well and comes off more sympathetically here than he did in the book.

Violence

A man is hit by a motorcycle (the accident isn't shown but is heard). A glimpse of wrist scars hints at a suicide attempt. A main character frequently suffers illness and painful episodes. Some arguing/confrontation.

Sex

The movie opens with a couple in bed, kissing; his naked chest and her naked side are shown. A couple of other kisses, and a few allusions to sex (including non-disabled characters pondering the logistics of quadriplegic sex) and brief references to porn and a lap dance. Talk of a woman's form-fitting dress being "too booby"; a couple of other shots of/references to cleavage. A shaving scene feels very intimate.

Language

Words used include "s--t," "hell," "stupid," "ass," "bloody," "swear to God," "shagging," "bitch," "idiot," "sod it," "a--hole," "damn," "tossers," "piss off," "Jesus" (as an exclamation)

Consumerism

Products/brands seen include Apple/Mac, Subaru, Adidas.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking, occasionally to excess (no serious consequences). Will must take a lot of prescription medications.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Me Before You is a romantic drama based on Jojo Moyes' moving novel about a young woman (Emilia Clarke) in a tiny English town who takes the job of caring for an unhappy man (Sam Claflin) left paralyzed after being hit by a motorcycle. Expect some swearing (including "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," and more, though not constantly), some drinking (sometimes to tipsiness), and racy content -- although there's nothing graphic, certain scenes feel very intimate, and there are some passionate kisses and references to sex and a woman's breasts/cleavage. While there are moments of levity and sweetness, the film's tone is a somber overall and sometimes downright tragic. The two main characters learn a lot from each other, especially about opening yourself up to different ways of thinking, but some viewers may find Will and his point of view problematic, since (spoiler alert) he feels that life isn't worth living if you're disabled.

User Reviews

Parent of a 12 and 14 year old Written byParent of Teens June 6, 2016

Please consider the dangerous message for teens with disabilities!

This movie is stirring up protest from disability groups because it portrays suicide as a selfless, noble act for people in wheelchairs who are "inconvenie... Continue reading
Adult Written bySueV June 2, 2016

Condones emotional abuse, ableism and suicide

It gives dangerous messages to impressionable minds in the name of romance. It communicates that disabled people's lives are not worth living, even when th... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byCare2301 June 12, 2016

AMAZING

I love the story and think it's amazingly produced. I was still crying while leaving the theatre! It's a beautiful movie and I think is a great movie... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byJuls.21_ June 5, 2016

Me before you

To be concerned for the parents, there is some content but not bad at all. It was the most emotional romantic movie ever! It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you... Continue reading

What's the story?

In ME BEFORE YOU, Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) was once a high-powered financier in London who grabbed life by the horns -- but after a motorcycle collision leaves him paralyzed, all he can think of is the pain he feels on a day-to-day basis, and he longs for a permanent escape. Enter Louisa "Lou" Clark (Emilia Clarke), a quirky, optimistic former waitress who needs a job to help with her family's finances. Even though she doesn't have any relevant experience, Lou is hired to be Will's companion and caretaker. What she does have is a deep well of kindness and joy, which she taps when she decides she wants to give Will a real reason to live. But can love conquer all?

Is it any good?

This movie treads a tricky line, both infuriating and charming viewers. The charm can be chalked up to star Clarke; she makes Lou the type of beguiling creature we've seen in films before who's often known as a "manic pixie dream girl" -- quirky, irreverent, and usually irresistible. Which is also where the infuriation comes in: The MPDG usually serves the function of making a male protagonist feel lightened and leavened, without experiencing much development herself. (All we really know about Lou in the movie is that she's cheery, optimistic, and kind; wears wacky clothing; and dreams of being in fashion in some vague way -- she was more fully developed, tragic back story and all, in the book.)

And then there's the fact that Me Before You  feels somewhat manipulative, with its BIG. SAD. FEELINGS. No melancholy moment is left unaccompanied by too-on-the-nose music, no delicate interaction between Lou and Will is spared a close-up. There's also a feeling of condescension toward the have-nots and the disabled. Will is portrayed as fundamentally dissatisfied with a life that -- even though family money affords him comfort and and round-the-clock care -- apparently just isn't good enough because he misses his old life, one that Lou herself (and, by extension, the film) has characterized as shallow. But perhaps most upsetting of all is how, despite all of this, Me Before You works on a certain level. You'll likely cry (in between eye-rolls) and be moved and root for the couple, for Lou, and for the idea of hope and renewed joy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Will is portrayed. Do you find his view of being disabled problematic? Can you see why disabled people might? What do you think about how disabled people are portrayed in the media generally? Do disabled characters tend to come off as stereotypes rather than complex individuals?

  • How do the characters demonstrate compassion? Why is that an important character strength?

  • How does Me Before You handle the class differences between Lou and Will? Does it glamorize the idea of a "good life"? Does it contradict itself in some ways? 

  • Talk about how movies and TV shows sometimes have idealized female characters whose job appears to be to cheer up male characters and show them another way of living. Is this stereotypical/limiting? Is it uplifting? Can it be both?

  • For those who've read the book, which do you like better, and why? What parts were left out of the movie that you missed? How do you think they impact the story?

Movie details

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