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Me Before You Blu-ray Review

Me Before You (2016) movie poster Me Before You

Theatrical Release: June 3, 2016 / Running Time: 110 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Thea Sharrock / Writer: Jojo Moyes (novel & screenplay)

Cast: Emilia Clarke (Louisa "Lou" Clark), Sam Claflin (Will Traynor), Janet McTeer (Camilia Traynor), Charles Dance (Stephen Traynor), Brendan Coyle (Bernard Clark), Stephen Peacocke (Nathan), Matthew Lewis (Patrick), Jenna Coleman (Katrina "Treena" Clark), Samantha Spiro (Josie Clark), Vanessa Kirby (Alicia Dewar), Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Rupert Freshwell), Joanna Lumley (Mary Rawlinson), Alan Breck (Granddad), Diane Morgan (Sharon the Waitress)

Buy Me Before You from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

Adapted from Jojo Moyes' bestselling 2012 novel, Me Before You sees England's cheerful
and colorfully dressed Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke, "Game of Thrones") lose her job as a cafe waitress. Times are tough for Lou and her working class family, so she jumps at the only available job she seems qualified for: a long-term care and companion position for a handicapped man.

The man is Will Traynor (Sam Claflin, The Hunger Games' Finnick), who used to be quite the adventurer until he was hit by a motorcycle and paralyzed from the neck down. Will is still extremely wealthy and handsome, but he is depressed having to sit in a wheelchair all day and being unable to perform the activities he used to love. Will's parents (Janet McTeer and Charles Dance) hire Lou on the spot, hoping she'll stick around longer than past occupants of the oft-relisted job did.

The initial tensions between Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke) and Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) soon dissipate in "Me Before You."

At this point, Me Before You embraces the romantic comedy mold, with lathered-on music and more than a few montages. The sullen Will doesn't like having the klutzy Lou around the family castle. In time, though, he comes to appreciate her company, as they watch subtitled foreign films on DVD and attend classical music concerts together. Lou has a boyfriend of seven years (Matthew Lewis, Harry Potter's Neville Longbottom), but fortunately he seems to be a lot more into fitness than he's into her, so there are no obvious obstacles standing in the way of the patient-caregiver relationship developing into something else.

Alas, there is one large obstacle: Will's interest in a physician-assisted suicide. Bummer.

Cleaned up and restyled, Will (Sam Claflin) is suddenly fit for accompanying Lou (Emilia Clarke) to classical music concerts and the like.

Me Before You is insulting to those who have used wheelchairs their entire lives (something our Jake Lipson personally addressed in his theatrical review) and also to those who have suffered accidents or developed conditions that robbed them of motor skills.
The philosophy that Will seems to ascribe to, and the movie chooses not to challenge, is that life isn't worth living if you can't run around on the beach and walk places. Moyes' book was loosely inspired by a real person's paralysis story, but that doesn't excuse the questionable message it sends.

Of course, if you think Me Before You intends to alter your position on euthanasia or coping with lifestyle change, you're overestimating its ambitions to an extreme. Really, the film just wants to move you (preferably to tears) with a love story between two people of different economic classes and lifestyles. In tone, content, and quality, it ends up occupying the vast chasm between Nicholas Sparks' weepie romances and Richard Curtis' witty American-friendly British romcoms.

The film debut of British stage director Thea Sherrock, Me Before You looks nice with its abundance of sunny photography and scenic locales. The two leads are agreeably charismatic and have suitable chemistry. And adapting her book in her first screenplay, Moyes keeps the dialogue and characterizations at a welcome distance from inanity. Nonetheless, it's still a romance movie and one that will play out more or less exactly how you think it will. Judged against romantic comedies, Me Before You may be considered slightly above average. Judged against cinema as a whole, it falls straight down to mediocrity.

Despite unflattering critical reviews, Me Before You proved to be a hit at the summer box office, grossing $56 million domestic and a staggering $196 M worldwide on a production budget of just $20 M. Surprisingly, the film was a big draw not just in its native UK but also Brazil, Germany, Australia, Mexico, and South Korea.

The strong ticket sales were not enough to get Warner to treat the film to one of their long-standard combo packs. Instead, like an increasing number of the studio's other new theatrical releases, Me Before You gets separate DVD and Blu-ray editions, the latter of which is reviewed here.

Me Before You Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($28.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Though it may leave some to be desired dramatically, Me Before You remains quite polished on a technical level throughout. The 2.40:1 presentation shows off the sunny British photography with clarity, detail, and sharpness. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix doesn't do much to garner notice, but nor does it disappoint.

Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin stay warm on the set in "'Me Before You': From Page to Screen." Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin get silly under the clapper in the Me Before You outtakes reel.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Me Before You is joined by three HD extras on Blu-ray.

First up, "Me Before You: From Page to Screen" (5:40) serves as a brief, general making-of featurette with comments from the writer, director, and cast complemented by clips and a bit of behind-the-scenes footage.

An outtakes reel (2:15) mostly shows off Emilia Clarke being silly.

Mrs. Traynor (Janet McTeer) visits Lou (Emilia Clarke) in her hometown and begs for her return in this deleted scene. The effective poster key art was reused as the cover art and as this menu image.

Finally, we get a reel of deleted scenes (6:11), which for the most part are brief and inconsequential.

The disc opens with trailers for The Legend of Tarzan and Storks, with a general promo for digital movies between them.

The basic menu attaches score to the poster/cover design.

The only insert within the unslipcovered keepcase supplies your Digital HD with UltraViolet code.

Lou (Emilia Clarke) and Will (Sam Claflin) enjoy a stroll outside the Traynor family castle.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The general moviegoing public seems to have enjoyed Me Before You, judging by its high ratings on IMDb and Amazon. There are certainly much worse romance films out there than this. Still, even if you set aside the questionable stance on disability, you get a very ordinary and familiar story that is aided only slightly by some production values and sufficiently charming lead actors.

If you enjoyed the book, maybe this merits a rental, but if not, unless you're a sucker for the genre, you can pass on this.

Buy Me Before You from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Sam Claflin: Love, Rosie The Hunger Games: Complete 4-Film Collection | Emilia Clarke: Terminator Genisys
Janet McTeer: Albert Nobbs | Charles Dance: Woman in Gold The Imitation Game Secret State
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The Intouchables The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Love Story

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Reviewed August 26, 2016.



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