Me Before You: A Movie (and Book) that Got Me Thinking more than I expected

SPOILER AHEAD.

Louisa Clark– a twenty something woman with a simple, very ordinary life–,in her desperation of looking for new job to fund her financially-struggling family, meets Will Traynor–a rich, thirty something guy who used to have the world at his hand before he became quadriplegic due to a very unfortunate motorbike accident.

At first, I thought it was going to be just like any other Romance story.

In a sense, it still was. I knew that Lou, despite her initial annoyance towards Will, would eventually fall for him. It was also quite predictable, that Will would eventually look at Lou differently.

Until it brought up quite a controversial topic: Disability and assisted suicide.

Will was a C5/6 quadriplegic. Despite his well-working cognitive ability, he can only move his head and small part of his hand. As a once successful, active, adventurous, independent man, the accident took everything that matters in his life, left him with almost no control over his own body and having to be dependent on carer 24/7. He became severely depressed, once attempted suicide, and bitter about the world around him–before Lou came into his life. Unknown to Lou, her seemingly odd 6-months job to assist and ‘brighten’ Will’s day was actually Will’s parent’s attempt to change Will’s mind about his plan to end his life through Dignitas (Swiss-based assisted suicide organization). The story was pretty much about how their relationship evolve–and at the end: About Will’s decision, and Lou’s reaction.

Mind that I am not usually that interested in romance story or whatsoever, even though once in a while, I admit that I enjoy these kind of stuffs, too. But this movie got me really thinking, deeper than what I expected. I even bought the book and finished it over a week. The book even pointed out things people can discuss. And it was actually interesting to ponder about.

I have warned you before, I’m gonna write spoiler here: Will still decided to die, even though Lou had made it clear that she loves him for who he was, despite his disability. Even though Will clearly has feeling for her. It wasn’t a happy ending for all party involved.

So, we come to the most interesting part: Would you justify Will’s decision? Or her mother’s decision to let him decide? Would you agree with Will if you were in his position? Or are you more on Lou and Lou’s mother’s side?

What I love from this movie/book is that it could make both argument sounds reasonable. I came into conclusion that both Lou and Will are selfish, to the point that one’s win would crush the other.

Hypothetically speaking, if I happen to be in Will’s shoes, I don’t know if I’d manage to have a will to live. Losing independence, to me, is the second worst thing that can happen in my life after losing cognitive ability. Will is fortunate, in a sense that he is rich and has someone who truly care for him. If it were me, I don’t think there would be any guy who is willing to go that far. Besides, the thought of burdening people physically, mentally, financially would just increase my guilt. If I didn’t take into account any religious value, I would agree with Will to sign up for Dignitas. Death could sound quite reasonable.

I read that many people try to boycott this movie because they think it promotes the idea that life of the disabled is not valuable.

No. That was not what I thought when I watch the movie.

It is really not that life of a disabled is not valuable. It’s about the definition of someone’s value that might be different. And it is reflected a lot in Lou and Will’s relation, and people around them, over the course of the movie.

What I observed is that people seem to force their own definition of what’s valuable to Will. He clearly shows that at several point. I think so, too, and it was quite annoying to be honest. People seem to force the idea of what’s best for him, without consulting him, and not letting him decide on himself–one thing that irritate him so much. Even Lou. Then what’s wrong if for just one last time, he wanted to have control over his own death? He had lost so much on life. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he decided to end his life. Apparently, Lou’s love, and her willingness to take care of him, is not enough. Because it’s not the only thing that matters to him.

I like it when one people in quadriplegic forum point out about exactly the same thought as I had at the time:

TLDR; You, abled body, will not understand how it feels.

To me it was very realistic for Will to have such thought. (It was the moment I thought why God could be that cruel to let people suffer in real life but also punish them when they couldn’t take it anymore? But that’s gonna be another long topic.)

However, before anyone judge me, I also can see Lou’s point. And her mother’s. If such unfortunate thing happen to someone I really love, I wouldn’t have heart to let him just die. Well, as just a normal human being with pretty low threshold of dealing with people’s minutiae, I might feel overwhelmed at times. After all, I never signed up for that (but who does and will? Nobody, I guess.) But again, if I really love that person that I consider very important, I would give my best to care for him. I can try to get help if it’s too much for me to handle. To me, that person wanting to die when we could still work things out (though not perfect) is utterly selfish. So, what if Lou is okay for not having sex with him? Just because Will think that ‘not being able to have sex anymore’ sucks, doesn’t mean it does for Lou. What if she is okay by just talking, joking, having deep conversation with Will? Lou is not Alicia (read: Will’s ex-girfriend. Beautiful, high-class, pretty much the same level as Will), and after all, Lou’s happiness is not that complicated to begin with.

It’s just Will assumed that Lou’s happiness would be similar to his own, or Alicia’s. That’s not even better than how other people assumes his happiness. This is exactly why I thought both are selfish. Understandably.

In this movie, I personally think Will still have chance to make things work, considering:
1.) He is rich. As money is not a problem, getting medical care is not a problem. With today’s medical advancement, he might be able to do a lot more than he thinks.
2.) He clearly has someone who genuinely love him, and willing to care for him.

What I think could make the situation closer to a win-win is if Will is willing to take Mary’s advice: to redefine himself in his new world. Not easy, especially when you are not in right mental state. But still a possibility. With Will’s background, for some reason it is understandable that a bright future is unthinkable. But doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Lou is not my favourite character, per se. I find her a bit too forceful at times. But her feeling, reaction, relationship with those around her is very realistic and relatable to many. Her love and anger towards Will, her cluelessness and nervousness. Her relationship with her family reminds me of my own. Lou’s quarrel with her sister, and her mom, dad, is what I can imagine happen in real family. Their different way of caring about each other shows love as what I understand. It’s not a lovey-dovey family without friction. In fact, a lot of disagreement going on to the point of hurtful anger. Sometimes you’d feel that nothing is fair. But in the end, they are willing to make things work together. And it somehow really works. I like it that imperfection in Lou’s family is perfectly portrayed.

In the end, the message is clear: You cannot force someone to change–no matter how hard you have tried to help and accept him–, unless he himself wants to change. Sometimes, giving yourself is still not enough. There is a limit to what you can do.

Overall, for a romance movie, it was 5/5.

For getting me to think this far.

p.s. Bonus: Good looking characters for the movie.

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