** This post contains spoilers. A lot of them. For the book and the movie. Consider yourself warned**
One of my favourite thing of all time is when books are turned into movies. I know this is a sore subject for book lovers, some feel that the movie is never as good or that the actors cast to play characters don’t fit what they had envisioned and it messes with their reading mojo. Not me. I’m team books to movies, I love to see how they get adapted. Sometimes I’ll read a book I had no intention of reading just so I can see the movie and compare them, and I will ALWAYS read the book first. Always.
The Fault in Our Stars seemed to open a market that had readers craving a genre of tear-jerking comedy. I’m noticing my Goodreads front page filled with reviews of books that balance comedy with the absolutely devastating subjects. Apparently we all just love to cry. When Me Before You was released at the end of 2012 it fit the bill. It had everyone talking and laughing and crying. A movie adaption was pretty much inevitable.
When I was reading Me Before You I pictured Lou to be bold and independent, but self-sacrificing. Lou still lives at home with a family who demands a lot of support both emotionally and financially but jokes about her lacking the skill or smarts to do anything of substance. This combined with an experience in her youth force her to question her self-worth, while also trying to please her family and her well-meaning but mostly self-absorbed boyfriend, Patrick, played in the movie by the seriously adorable Matthew Lewis. I think it’s Lou’s desire to feel needed that made her initial placement working as Will’s carer fit so well. When she had obviously given up quite quickly with other jobs the employment agency had placed her with, it was in this job that she forced herself to persevere.
The casting of Louisa’s family was on pointe. I loved and hated Treena the same way I did in the book and Brendan Coyle played the unemployed yet comical head of the Clark household so well. Sadly, I thought the chemistry between Emilia Clarke and Sam Clafin fell short. I’d seen interviews where they talked about how much fun they had on set together which I could definitely see on screen. Their comedic timing was awesome, but their relationship on screen translated more as one of best friends instead of as love interests.
Overall the movie didn’t stray too far from the book except for a few points in the plot line (such as Will being an only child) were pretty minor and didn’t affect the story. However, there was a major change had me questioning why it was removed.
It seems that Emilia Clark put her heart and soul into this role and you can’t help but fall in love with her as an adorable, doe-eyed Louisa. She with EXTREMLY expressive, and her eyebrows alone could be considered a member of the cast. While we get to see the quirky and idealistic Lou in the movie, the vulnerability of her character from the book just doesn’t transmit as well on screen. A big part of this was due to the removal of the maze scene. I really felt this trauma of Lou’s juxtaposed Will’s and demonstrated how both physical injury and emotional injury can so significantly effect a person and have them to question their value. Where Will can’t face living a life where he was forced to give up who he used to be, Lou anxiously changed into a completely new person to avoid leaving herself exposed again. Jojo Moyes discussed leaving out this scene that I considered to be a pivotal plot point in an interview with the Washington Post.
“It’s interesting how people react to that part of the book. Often when you read about rape in fiction, it’s the defining event. I knew lots of girls who had similar events happen to them, and they tucked it away and moved on. We almost know before Louisa knows how much that’s affecting her. The scene is very opaque in the book, but putting it on film gave it far more weight than it has in the book and it was changing the mood of the story. We tried for six months to make that scene. It was a useful experience to learn you cannot translate some things into film.”
I can definitely see how adding in Lou’s trauma to an already bleak story could mean tipping the scales from a sad love story straight to a dark and depressing tragedy, so I’m going to have to just trust the screenwriters on that. I think leaving out this piece of the story contributed to making the movie slightly less gut-wrenching than book.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very emotional, but the book made me cry those big, ugly crocodile tears whereas the movie only had me wiping a few stray tears. I didn’t leave the theatre feeling anywhere near as emotionally exhausted as I did reading the book but that’s probably an expected response from any book junkie.