This review includes spoilers and mentions of suicide. “Me Before You” is available on DVD August 30.
This blog post has been in the making for a long time. Ever since, I saw the movie “You Before Me,” starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, I have been in a battle with myself about how I was going to put my honest, but perhaps unpopular, opinion down on paper for everyone to read.
The movie was not that bad and I actually kind of liked it! I bet most of you that know about the controversy surrounding the movie are reading my previous sentence with your mouths agape. For those of you that don’t know, “Me before You” by Jojo Moyes, is a book turned into a movie about a man with quadriplegia as the result of being hit by a motorcycle. This man, Will Traynor played by Claflin, was very physically active before his accident and decided that, since he could not participate in the activities he enjoyed in the same capacity he did before his accident, he would end his life via assisted suicide. Desperate to change his mind, his parents hire a woman to befriend him, hoping it will help with his emotional well-being.
The controversy is caused by Traynor’s desire to end his life after becoming a person with quadriplegia. This struck a nerve within the disability community as evidenced by negative reviews because we (I say “we” because I am part of the community) do not want people to look at us like our lives are not worth living. The movie portrays a man who believes that his life will no longer be fulfilling because he has a disability. Now, I believe anyone can make their life fulfilling if they want it to be, regardless of a disability.
That being said -- this is the part of my opinion that may upset some of my readers and fellow self-advocates -- I thought it was a good movie. Here’s why: Will Traynor does not represent the entire disability community. Not everyone with a disability wants to end their life. He is one man and it was his own story. Not once did anything in the movie make it seem like the story was about a group of people instead of one man. In my opinion, some viewers are of the opinion that the film is trying to make people with disabilities look bad. But it isn’t. The movie and characters are fictional. I think we need to give people outside of the disability community more credit for not believing everything they hear or see about people with disabilities.
Lastly, the movie did not glorify suicide. It pains me to say that I’m sure that some people within our community are plagued with thoughts of suicide and this problem often goes ignored. Perhaps this film will serve to shine a light on people with disabilities contemplating suicide. After my mother read the book, she asked me a few times if I had ever contemplated suicide. Luckily, the answer for me was “no.” But, I’m sure thoughts of suicide are a reality for others. Please remember that suicide is not the answer. If you are struggling, please call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Please share your comments about Megan’s review on the FSACentral Facebook page under the article post. This movie deserves some thoughtful dialogue among self-advocates.