If there is any saving grace for Me Before You, it’s that Emilia Clarke has a spectacular, perplexing ability to make her eyebrows continuously go in four different directions at once, and they’ve never had a better showcase. Unfortunately, that’s about it.
To be fair, this may serve as a fairly decent genre flick. If the Nicholas Sparksian rom-dram is your bag, if you saw the trailer and know that this movie will manipulate your emotions to the point of tears and you’re down with that, then by all means, sit back and enjoy the schmaltz. But it does not serve as anything other than the one-dimensional eyebrow vehicle. You know the story already. It’s 50 Shades of Grey, Pretty Woman, and every other reserved millionaire-meets-charming quirk machine movie, but devoid of any real sexuality. In fact, I cannot think of literally even one moment that may have earned this movie its PG-13 rating. Emilia Clarke is sexy as hell, but that has nothing to do with the role or movie itself. That’s just unavoidable.
Clarke plays Lou Clark, a perpetually smiling, bumblebee tights-wearing ball of whimsy who takes a job as the caregiver to Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), an exceedingly wealthy and dour quadriplegic. I don’t need to go into the plot any more than that, because, again, you know it. I have to admit, I had a recurring thought every 15 minutes or so, starting before the hour mark, where I would wonder to myself if I could duck out early and fake my way through this review. I didn’t, but it turned out, I could have. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie with fewer surprises. Because, I suppose, you can’t have fewer than zero. This is a basic coloring book of a movie, a preschool puzzle of formulaic plot points.
To Emilia Clarke’s credit, she seems to be having fun exploring very un-Khaleesi roles. Unfortunately, between this and Terminator: Genisys, she’s turning out to be nearly entirely forgettable in everything that doesn’t involve wigs and dragons. She’s not bad in the role, but the role itself is bad— just unapologetically one-dimensional— and she does nothing to rise above it. The same goes for Claflin as well as Nicholas Hoult, who plays Clark’s fitness-obsessed, oblivious boyfriend. If you want to watch a bunch of pretty people be pretty at each other (oh, Jenna Coleman also drops in to do pretty much nothing), and if you’re prone to weepiness and want to let that out, you could probably do worse than Me Before You. But at the moment, I’m drawing a blank as to how, exactly.