By Pauline Nacar
Images: Youtube and The Guardian
The film “Me Before You,” a movie adaptation of the New York Times bestseller novel by Jojo Moyes, has been getting a lot of attention ever since its trailer came out. Reactions to the film have been mixed – a lot of people loved it, and a lot of people didn’t and are letting everybody know why on social media. But what’s the fuss about? Isn’t it just another typical rom-com that happens to have a disabled romantic lead? Apparently it’s not.
If you’ve seen the trailer, you know that “Me Before You” is a love story between Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke), a bubbly woman who becomes the caretaker of Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), a wealthy man with a disability cause by a motorcycle accident. Will suffers from quadriplegia, a paralysis that causes partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and the torso. He also suffers from depression and with this information alone; you know that this movie might make you cry. The movie starts off as any typical romantic comedy – they become friends, they then become positive forces in each other’s lives and gradually, they fall in love. Time and time again, the movie shows how Will’s disability is not a hindrance for him to experience all that life has to offer, but in the end, he still chooses to end his life. The reason behind this is the fact that he can’t accept his disability and he believes that Lou will be happier without him.
Because of this, the story has caused an outrage in the disabled community, as they see the movie as a “disability snuff film” which promotes euthanasia. Groups have accused the film for promoting the message that a disabled life is not worth living. The hashtag campaigns #MeBeforeEuthanasia and #MeBeforeAbleism have popped up and have been making rounds on Twitter. Long story short, Will commits patient-assisted suicide through the organization Dignitas. Usually this decision is disturbing, but this movie painted the whole scenario with pretty colors and passed it off as something noble and romantic.
Protesters are saying that the movie belittles people with disabilities and supports the idea that they are better off dead, but Psychologist Jeremy Clyman disagrees. In a post on Psychology Today, Clyman argued that the movie did not promote any of the accusations the protesters put forward and all the movie shows is that Will made an unhealthy decision to kill himself. He mentioned that even after the accident, he lived a decent life where he could afford round-the-clock care and state of the art equipment. He also points out that over the course of movie, Will clearly showed signs of depression even if it was not clearly stated. He then concludes by saying that the movie showed nothing about him seeking help for his depression or even discussing his patient-assisted suicide decision with others. He believes that these factors are the only things wrong with this film.
Personally, I don’t believe that suicide is the answer to anything. Knowing this makes me uncomfortable and scared of what this backlash can do to society. Regardless, the views on the film may differ but I can say that the film will have an effect on its viewer. One thing’s for sure, whatever you think of the film, it has been getting a lot of public attention and the polarizing opinions just create more topics for discussion.
You can catch “Me Before You” in cinemas now.