I don’t usually read what all of the BookTubers and Bookstagrammers are reading—at least not when they’re currently raving about and reading it. This isn’t on general principal, I just rarely have time, and am usually already reading something else anyway. But when I needed a new audiobook, I ran to the supposedly special and uber hyped-up little red book with swirly white letters on the cover. Especially since I had heard there was a movie coming out “sometime soon”—a movie starring none other than Daenerys Targaryen and Finnick Odair themselves.
But then I actually started reading Me Before You. And I fell in love. And there is nothing fleeting or flippant about it.
Me Before You tells the story of a young woman named Louisa Clark who needs to find a job—and herself. She finds the former as a carer for quadriplegic Will Traynor, a man who has lived and loved and lost. He teaches her to embrace everything she has, everything she could have, and everything she could be.
This sounds super cheesy—like, almost worthy of being photographed for social media but ripped apart in reviews. But it’s really worthy of so much more.
Yes, Louisa and Will fall in love. Spoiler alert. But the book doesn’t focus on this aspect of their relationship. It focuses on them as people, helping one another, living together and caring for one another in the limited ways that they can. It also focuses on their clever banter, which absolutely killed me. Louisa is hysterical—so awkward, so adorable, so relatable. Will is smart, sharp. Moyes’ characterization of them was impeccable. By the end of the story I felt like both characters were part of me. Or at least my children or something.
Anyway, I absolutely adored the book. I loved the conflicts, the jokes, the message to live boldly. I easily forgave the pointless perspective changes, the sometimes annoying excess of sister drama (I hated Trina so this was amplified). I cried while listening to it. In my car. While driving down the road. Yeah. It was that good.
So you can see why I was a little surprised when I didn’t shed a single tear when I saw the movie last night. I went to the screening at the Regal Theater in Atlantic Station, hosted by Warner Brothers and Harper’s Bazaar (thank you so, so much!). It was a good movie, but was nothing compared to the movie in my head, nothing compared to the book.
My main disappointment was due to how much of the story was omitted in the film. The backstory about why Lou isn’t as daring as she once was, why she hates the castle? Nope. Moving in with Patrick, fighting with the Traynors about taking Will places? Nothing. The freaking BUMBLEBEE TATTOO? NADA. Too many crucial, interesting, and character-bonding conflicts are smoothed over and erased.
Other than this, the movie was great. In fact, it was probably great to anyone who hadn’t read the book. Why so great? I don’t know, ask the Mother of Dragons and the darling of the Capitol. They were brilliant. Emilia WAS Louisa, and Sam WAS Will. She was so bubbly, so happy, so Lou. He was so rough and quick-mouthed, but later so kind. They were exactly what I imagined the characters to be like, right down to the facial expressions and costumes.
This was the best part of the movie to me. Despite the simplified plot, despite everything happening so quickly, despite the imperceptible but pointless tweaks here and there, the movie Me Before You was mostly true to the book. But more importantly, it was true to the characters. Right down to the sparkly Wellies and bumblebee tights.
Live boldly, all. “Just…live.”
Book: 5/5 stars
Movie: 7/10 stars