Tuesday 14 June 2016

Me Before You ... Rich guy helps poor chick

IT'S not uncommon to hear sniffles at the end of romances ensconced in medical dramas, for example, The Fault In Our Stars (2014), about two teenage cancer patients.
    However, director Thea Sharrock's Me Before You goes one step further and delves into euthanasia, and confirms that life's not worth living, even if you have a sultry Game of Thrones actress in a red dress straddling you.

    Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), the handsome former financier who's paralysed from the neck down after being hit by a motorcycle, says he wants to commit suicide because he can't do things to her that a normal man could.
    I won't debate his reasons, but I'd like to discuss his financial aid to his carer Lou Clark (GoT's Emilia Clarke) after his death. He leaves a substantial amount of money for her to go to university.
   The aid, while noble, is typical of the rich-poor divide that permeates the film. While everyone's focus is on the romantic angle, the real thing to watch is the divide between wealthy Will and working-class Lou.
   Will lives in a resplendent mansion in the countryside with his doting but frustrated parents, who have hired a physiotherapist for him and but have had no luck in hiring a carer for grumpy and despondent Will, until Lou walks in.
    Lou, who's dressed in colourful attire, has been working in a cafe until she's laid off, so is desperate to get the well-paid job caring for Will.
Will (Claflin) springs a surprise on Lou (Clarke).
  While Will has all the creature comforts in the world and so much space to move about in his motorised wheelchair, Lou is stuck with four generations living under the same roof: her grandfather; parents, including the unemployed father; she and her sister; and the sister's child.
    The small kitchen is chaotic and brightly lit, and the parents are hopeful that Lou will get a new job after she's laid off.
   There's so much pressure and expectation on her tiny shoulders, but things don't start off well between her and the abrasive quadriplegic. Later, she tells him that she needs the job, realising that she's the only hope for her straitened family.
   Thanks to Will's wealth and cultured sensibilities, she gets to attend a chamber concert for the first time. This reminded me of Richard Gere's billionaire character taking Julia's Roberts's prostitute character to the opera in Pretty Woman. In fact, Lou and Roberts's character shed a few tears during the performances.
  Will also introduces Lou to a French film, and she's so entranced by it, much to Will's joy. The rich guy can do no wrong in helping a garrulous working-class girl.
Lou sucks it up for her job.
  Another example of Will's luxurious lifestyle is his parents paying for him, Lou and the physiotherapist to jet off to an exotic island resort for some rest and recreation.
   Do you think a poor quadriplegic could have experienced such a lifestyle?
  The film purports to be about a romance on the first level, and euthanasia on the second level. But it's actually about a rich white guy assuaging the plight of the poor, or imposing the values and benefits of being wealthy on the latter.

2½ out of 5 stars

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