Film Review: Me Before You (2016)

One evening last week I took a bowl of Ben and Jerrys ice cream to bed with me and decided that I was in the mood to watch a romantic film. When Me Before You popped up on Netflix, it felt like the right time to give it a chance. I wasn’t keen on the book. Having said that, I didn’t really give it a fair chance. I started Me Before You maybe a year ago now, got about two chapters in and gave up. Maybe I was tired or stressed but it seems obvious that I made a mistake, because I absolutely loved the film.

Being a huge Game of Thrones fan (honestly really is one of the best TV series ever made!) I was interested in seeing how Emilia Clarke settled into a very different role. Daenerys Targaryen is very stoic and statuesque, whereas Louisa Clark is a bit of a scatter brain, dresses in all colours of the rainbow and has a very vibrant and chatty personality. It was really strange to see Emilia Clarke acting as what seemed more like a young girl than an actual woman and although at first I wasn’t entirely convinced, I did manage to build a strong likeability for Louisa’s character.

For those like me who haven’t read the book, the film follows the story of two characters – Louisa Clark and Will Traynor. When the film begins, Louisa is working happily in a café. Until she gets made redundant that is and is forced to find a new job elsewhere. Louisa’s quirkiness makes it difficult for her to fit into a bog standard office or professional career, so she ends up going for an interview to be a carer instead. Her client is Will – who has been left paralysed from a motorbike accident. As I’m sure you can imagine, we then follow their journey to falling in love with one another as they grapple to consider how a relationship like theirs could work.

There was nothing overly special about the casting choice of Sam Claflin as Will Traynor, apart from the fact that he is very obviously quite beautiful. There didn’t seem to be any real chemistry between himself and Emilia Clarke, but they portrayed the chemistry between Louisa and Will exceptionally, regardless. The romance of the film was established perfectly. As was the issue of physical intimacy – which was neither overplayed nor underplayed. Visually, everything really did feel as if it was slotting into place.

Overall, the film was oddly quite a joy to watch. Although there are some notable sad parts to it and it will make you weep uncontrollably as it approaches its end, it is an enjoyable experience overall. Most of you have probably seen it by now but for those of you who haven’t, I really don’t want to give too much away. But it will be going in my box of romantic films to watch on a rainy day, with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for sure!

Must See Book-To-Movie Adaptations

So I’ve already written a post about books being turned in to TV series, which is great because not everyone has time to sit around for an hour and a half watching a full movie. It takes a great deal for me to become seriously engaged by a movie, but one of the big things that secures my attention is if I’m watching one that’s been adapted from an actual novel.

Now all the Young Adult lovers out there like myself will probably agree that we’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations. Over the past few years, we’ve really been treated with a massive influx of our favourite novels being brought to life on screen. It all really started with Twilight for me – regardless of it’s persistent critique about sparkling vampires and dramatic romance plots, it still brings tears to my eyes literally every time I watch it. We’ve also had the spectacular Harry Potter movies, which I don’t think anybody can really fault! Beautiful Creatures, Vampire Academy and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones didn’t do so well, but we still got to see some of our favourite characters brought to life on-screen. And with movies like The Host, The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner all being adapted in to films, the young adult dystopian genre has really been pulled in to the spotlight recently.

So my point is, that book to movie adaptations are a real treat for book lovers like myself, because although your imagination is a great way to visualise your favourite written scenes, there’s also something really special about making links between fictional characters and real-life actors and actresses playing those characters on screen. So below, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe are the best book-to-movie adaptations to date. I haven’t read all of the books, but if the movies were good enough to grab my attention, then I reckon that the books can only be better. I’m sure there are plenty more out there, but these are just my personal favourites! Oh and I have to give a special thanks to my housemate Manon for giving me the idea to write this blog post when I was tired, fed-up, had writers block and was ready to give up and go to sleep instead!

The Best of Me (To-Read)

Nicholas Sparks has this way of effortlessly devising romance plots that just work perfectly on screen. Although I have to say that his writing style is very simplistic and perhaps not as engaging as I expected, the movies are always great. I watched this one yesterday and it has two great twists at the end that really pull the plot together. So above The Notebook, The Last Song and A Walk to Remember (which has to be my favourite Nicholas Sparks based movie), this one is the one that I’m going to put on this list. The Longest Ride has also been made in to a movie and I’ll be watching that really soon to see what other romantic ideas Sparks has put together. 

The Twilight Saga (Read)

I don’t think I need to say much about this. Despite Kristen Stewart’s incessant breathing and Edward always looking as strained as a kettle, the movies are on-screen perfections. I’m not sure about the super icy colour scheme to the Twilight movie – even though Kristen Stewart claims that Catherine Hardwick (the director of Twilight) “did something really special” with the first movie. In retrospect, the Twilight movie could have been a lot better than it was, but I think that the rest of the movies really make up for it and so as a whole, the Twilight Saga is definitely one of the best book-to-movie adaptations out there.

Sense and Sensibility (Read)

There are probably about 500,000 adpatations of this out there, but the BBC really know how to capture Jane Austen novels in all their elite and sophisticated perfection. I’m cheating a little bit because this was a mini series and not really a movie, but on Netflix you can stream it one episode after the other as if it is a movie and it was really great so I had to put it on here. Oh and Dominic Sherwood anyone? Yes please!

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Read)

I think Colin Firth is really the main reason I love this movie, because he’s just the perfect Lord Henry Wotton. Although they changed the hair colour (Dorian is meant to be blonde), Ben Barnes is a real looker and it’s never a bad thing to get to watch him on screen. The dark colour palette of this film fused with the sometimes disorienting sensual scenes really makes for a great film that captures Dorian’s life of debauchery perfectly. Not to mention that it’s just a superb storyline in general – Oscar Wilde really pulled the stops out with this one.

The Great Gatsby (Read)

As much as I rate Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor, his portrayal of Gatsby in the recent 2013 The Great Gatsby (2013) movie was so much less than satisfying! If you’re looking for a proper portrayal of this brilliant book, then you need to watch the 1974 verison with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow! Everything here just seems a lot more palpable, whereas Baz Luhrmann’s portrayal has this vivid edge of artificiality the whole way through. Of course the story is all about that, but what we have to remember is that for some people, this life of luxury was real and for some characters, their emotions were just as real too! I think that one of most important aspects of Gatsby’s story is that weighting of realism and surrealism and the 1974 version of this story crafts it beautifully.

The Lovely Bones (To-Read)

This is one of the best and saddest movies I’ve ever watched and not because it had a soppy romance plot with some kind of forbidden love. This mostly focused on family and that was something I really liked about it. There’s also something really poignant about the way the movie frames itself around some of the more serious issues in the story and it’s one of those films that everybody needs to watch.

The Maze Runner (Read)

Apart from Harry Potter, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a young adult book-to-movie adaptation executed so well. The directors and producers of The Maze Runner did an epic job and I loved every single second of this movie! It’s definitely a must-see, particularly as The Scorch Trials is set to hit UK cinemas in September this year!

The Spectacular Now (To-Read)

The Spectacular Now is great because it’s not really cliche at all and it follows some more deep-rooted issues than just your average YA romance formula would (boy meets girl > love > problem > back to love again). Shailene Woodley is a really great actress and it’s got a nice relaxed quality to it that keeps it feeling realistic and applicable to teenage life.

Never Let Me Go (Read)

Carey Mulligan made the perfect Kathy H and in my opinion, the simplicity of the movie really captured that subtle tinge of sadness to Ishiguro’s story. It was all done so perfectly and is honestly one of my favourite movies (and books!) to date.

Thanks for reading!