The tearjerker Me Before You is making a ton of people cry, but some for a reason that the cast and crew didn’t expect. The film is a drama about a woman who falls in love with her quadriplegic client. In the film, Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke has fallen in love with a man who wants to die via assisted suicide because of his disability.
Outraged by how a physical limitation is portrayed in the film, disabled campaigners are calling the drama “a disability snuff film.” They aren’t the only ones critiquing the film for how it portrays people with physical disabilities. Film critics have gone on to call the film “insensitive” for its portrayal.
Collider writes, “Because Me Before You wants to live firmly in the realm of fantasy, it doesn’t want to address the ugliness of living with quadriplegia. We’re told that Will hates being stuck in a chair because he used to be so active, and his physical therapist reveals to Lou that Will wakes up screaming, but it’s always better to show instead of tell, and Me Before You always wants to be avoid showing anything remotely unpleasant unless it’s melodramatic.”
The site continued, “Me Before You wants to keep everything cheerful, it ends up doing a grave disservice to the reality of disability and turns suicide into something positive.”
— IndieWire (@IndieWire) June 6, 2016
You don’t have to scour the internet too hard to find reviews that are less tame when discussing how Me Before You glosses over disability, and instead, uses it as a plot device for schmaltzy romance. Now, director Thea Sharrock has decided to defend Me Before You in the wake of the criticisms.
Of the film, which is an adaptation based on Jojo Moyes’ book, Sharrock said, “I have no problem with people seeing this film and not liking it for 101 different reasons; you go into every project with that as a possibility. I understood going into it how vulnerable a topic it is and susceptible to very strong opinions. It has big themes in it that are very easy to make quick judgments on.”
Sharrock continued, “It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what the message is. It’s a fictional story about how important the right to choose is. The message of the film is to live boldly, push yourself, don’t settle.”
People are so passionate about Me Before You that it even trended on Twitter.
— s. e. smith (@realsesmith) June 4, 2016
— Marianne Scobie (@stardate2371) May 28, 2016
— IsaJennie ♿️ (@IsaJennie) May 28, 2016
This isn’t the first time someone involved with the film has spoken out about the public outcry. Star Emilia Clarke defended Me Before You after it was initially slammed for its “wrong” depiction of the disabled.
During the film’s premiere in London, which was open to protestors, Clarke told the Guardian of the film.
“I think that the movie is a Hollywood movie, but I think that what we are showing is something that we took a lot of care over, with Jojo being there as well, because she wrote the book first, so that’s the story that we were going off. We were very careful with how we wanted to present things. And we are showing a situation, we are not showing an opinion.”
What’s your opinion on Me Before You?
[Image via New Line Cinema]