Admittedly not my sort of film and I’m not the demographic it’s aiming for, but I can say that I liked this film. Aside from my pessimistic view on the cheesiness that others find cute and the less than emotional subject matter, this is a movie that I got nearly all wrapped up in thanks to a solid spark between the leads.
Needing to find a new job to help her big family in a small house, Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) lands a carer position at the Traynor’s. She looks after Will (Sam Claflin) who after an accident 2 years prior is now paralysed from the neck down and wants out of his life. Louisa begins falling for him as he helps her see more to her own life but can she change his mind?
The thing I don’t get on board with, considering this trend of ‘weepy’ films, is the way that it tries pushing audiences into reaching for the tissues. This one is hardly different, in that you know what to expect from the ending, it’ not like an M. Night Shyamalan twist is going to enter and uproot what we’ve seen before. Therefore I don’t see how people get so emotional watching a movie that just leads to an event we all know is going to happen.
Taken from a novel by Jojo Moyes, this film has her writing the screenplay which is good because it means she can keep control of the material and tone of her story. The only big issue I had with the plot was the central problem Will faces and how he wants to deal with it. This movie does deal with suicidal thoughts, but it doesn’t seem to do it in a careful way. The whole Dignitas promise of six months feels crudely forced for sad faced impact, in fact my cynical side wanted more of this by the end because what we get are just bleary glimpses of a subject matter that deserves a more focused look.
In fact, the quadriplegic life Will leads is one that feels very icky. In all his athletic and smart ways he subjects himself to lone time in an annex, not even caring that of course disabled people can still continue. I get that at first you’d shut yourself away but after two years, even his family haven’t tried getting him to notice disabled sports are popular. The story almost makes it seem like being in a wheelchair is a burden and nothing else, which doesn’t even change by the end.
In a good light, the look of the film is perfect for this genre. The soft tones, the idyllic castle setting and the almost slowed down moments that let the frame hover over the romantic stares between Will and Lou. Thea Sharrock ensures the film gives plenty of breathing space for Lou’s life and her character, Will gets a sort of back seat exploration but we get enough to know he’s bitter yet educated, rude yet thoughtful. Lou expanding her horizons and living life to the max because of Will’s aide are a nice touch and give some hope to the story at least.
It’s clear to see the costume department had a field day on this film as Louisa runs amok with an array of mismatched yet funky fashion choices. Her character wanted to study in Manchester but never did, though she still has an eye and heart for clothes and we see this constantly in the movie as she goes through an almost concert night of changing outfits. They are very loud but fun choices and really enhance the chatty and colourful nature of her character.
Emilia Clarke is absolutely brilliant throughout this film, giving a beautiful expression filled performance for her softer side dealing with her blossoming love, but in a more perfect way she sells Lou as a proper goof, spieling off words, smiling in a way that would make the Cheshire cat jealous and generally injecting this movie with a ton of charm. Sam Claflin is great in slowly thawing and realising he can still do things, he’s strong in being shut off and cold which seems to be his most continuous mood through the plot. I have to credit Matthew Lewis who transitions away from brave Neville Longbottom into a running obsessed fitness freak with an arrogance the size of Hogwarts.
There is a huge issue with the handling of the subject matter within this film, some may view it as tender and cry-worthy and others, like me will view it as problematic and a cheap way to get emotion. All that being said, the chemistry is engaging and Clarke shines in a funny and effective way.