There’s often this feeling I get when I watch book-to-movie adaptations that I’m running a marathon. When you are reading a book and easing into the story for the first time, not only can you go at your own speed, but the story is also moving along at it’s own pace. When I read Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You, it was like taking a nice leisurely walk through Louisa’s town and the ever-looming tourist-trap castle.
I was already skeptical about the movie adaptation of Me Before You, because, as I am sure many of us have noticed, filmmakers often have a knack for taking such a large amount of artistic license with a story to the point of changing it entirely. Me Before You seemed like a prime target for this Hollywood safe-fail. However, the biggest problem I had with the film was it’s pacing.
For the sake of brevity, and not repeating myself, I will refer you to my earlier book review of Me Before You, if you are looking for a summary of the plot line and opinions on the story.
The film adaptation remained fairly true to it’s book counterpart, showing us the self-assured Will Traynor who seems to have it all, just before his accident. Then, we breeze fairly quickly through the story when we are introduced to Louisa and her life in the small English town with a family struggling to support themselves. Finally, Louisa interviews for the job of caring for Traynor for the next six months.
I loved that they chose to include Lou’s wardrobe malfunction and Will’s trick when they first meet. As we go through the various days of Lou and Will together, time speeds up again and takes on a sort of lighthearted quality. While Lou is supposed to be relatively positive, I felt that this time in the book was portrayed with more serious tension. Maybe this was the filmmakers taking their artistic license where they could in an otherwise serious story. If so, I’m pretty much okay with it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the intimate scenes between Lou and Will, such as those at the concert and the wedding, and even on the beach when Will attempts to convince Lou that his choice is for the best, for everyone.
Emilia Clarke and Sam Clafin did have wonderful chemistry. While I thought Clarke’s portrayal was a bit over-the-top in terms of her smiley, chatty demeanor, she did come into the sarcastic, teasing Lou that took over during the book. I thought she was adorable in claiming Lou’s unique fashion sense and her general naiveté. Clafin was wonderfully handsome as the serious, brooding, shut-in, although I think he could have been a bit more angry and brooding than portrayed in the film. Again, a lot of the tension about the situation is lost in the adaptation in the interest of time, which means it is up to the actors to show those various moods throughout the film.
However, as in the book, I absolutely loved the ending. The final moments between Will and Lou are so deep and delicate — I couldn’t hold back the tears. And finally, when we see Lou in her bumblebee tights in Paris, reading her letter, the movie came to a perfect close filled with hope for the future. Although I didn’t feel the weight of Lou’s loss, as I did in the book, but the ending did carry the overall tone of the movie, which just made it feel the right — the way it should feel. I am so ecstatic that the filmmakers did not change a single thing with this part of the story — I have so much respect for them for not taking the easy, Hollywood way out.
For the story, I would recommend the book. But if you want to quick and simple way to revisit this lovely story, I would definitely recommend watching the movie, if for no other reason than to see Clarke and Clafin together — definitely an OTP. Hopefully we’ll see them together in more things in the future.
What did you think of the film adaptation of Me Before You? How does pacing change between books and films, and how do you think this affects the story? What do you think of filmmakers changing the original story? Why do you think they do this? Let’s talk.