*Spoiler Alert: this commentary does not hide details about the movie.
I’m not going to lie. Despite the unfortunate pro-euthanasia end, I loved the first hour and a half of the movie. I would almost dare to affirm that the first half and the second half are two different films.
It leaves you with the feeling that the end is an aggregate that the euthanistic companies paid for so that they would get some mediatic propaganda by the abrupt turn that the story takes. That is why I will speak in two parts: Acts I and II, and Act III.
“Me Before You” Acts I and II
Let us look at Will Traynor’s (Sam Claflin) life, a playboy with his girlfriend, and let us imagine that he has everything he could wish for. An unfortunate accident leaves him quadriplegic and he cannot do anything but live sitting in a chair.
Time goes by. Two years. The director takes us to a small town in which a girl called Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) works at a coffee shop, frequented by elderly people. From the beginning, we see that she is a joyful girl, filled with a strong urge to live. When she is fired from her job, she starts looking for a new one and she finds out that the wealthiest family in town needs someone to take care of their disabled son. That’s when the playboy meets the town girl.
At first, he does not want her near him. He has a pretty despicable attitude against the girl, Louisa Clark, who does not give up and gives the best she’s got, in spite of not getting anything in return.
The relationship starts to develop. Will begins to open up to this sweet town girl that dresses funny and can’t stop smiling. On the other hand, Louisa gets to know the good side of her employer. But this happiness does not last long. At the end of the second act, we find out that Will wants to end his life at a Swiss clinic that’s concerned with “giving a dignified death” to people who wish to have one. Louisa decides that she will not let this happen and starts a crusade so that Will, who’s slowly winning her heart (and vice-versa), decides that he wants to keep living.
Up until this point, the movie is excellent. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” It seems that Louisa knew and lived these words. Her patience at the moment of approaching Will never broke, except when he went too far with his superior attitude towards her. Louisa understands that Will’s situation is not easy and so she sets up every possible plan for him to enjoy life. The love of this Louisa perseveres, waits and endures although she is alone on this.
Will asks Louisa to go to Switzerland and spend the last moments of his life with him. In that instant, in the movie theater, everyone was crying, and I just wanted to shout at the screen. Louisa’s reaction is perfect when she tells Will he has been selfish for playing with her emotions when he knew he would kill himself in the end. And Will answers by claiming that he is doing it for her so that she won’t have to take care of a crippled man her entire life. That’s a lie! He was going to commit suicide even before he met her!
The movie ends with Will’s point of view, when it is Louisa’s position that’s worth highlighting. She understands that this is a way of consented homicide, that it is not okay from any perspective. Furthermore, “love is not self-seeking, it does not boast”. What Will affirms is a lie because Louisa’s love is bigger than that. She would never regret marrying someone in a wheelchair, for love is more than just a moment, it’s for life, in the good and the bad.
The movie is clearly an apology for euthanasia. The company to which Will surrendered his life is called “Dignitas: Live with Dignity. Die with dignity”. The film tries to naturalize the act of renouncing one’s own life. Such is the turn that the movie takes in the third act, that at some point of the plot, Louisa changes her mind and travels to Switzerland to spend with Will the last moments of his life. It’s a morbid end.
This drama’s third act seems to be from a different movie than the first two acts. In the first acts, like I said, Saint Paul speaks (not always but in some parts). In the third act, it is the world who speaks: “It is his choice. Let him do what he wishes with his life”. They say this more than once through the movie; and it’s wrong. No one chooses to be born, thus no one chooses when to die. It is God who disposes of every person’s time. This is well reflected in the moment in which Louisa’s mother exclaims: “It is homicide, it has no other name”.