• by Wes Singleton

Review: Me Before You, B-

Rated PG-13, 110 minutes

The predictably pleasant, winsome new romantic drama "Me Before You" is what Nicholas Sparks could do with romance, if done more than just icky sweet, over-sentimental moments. Granted, this pulls few surprises, especially if you're familiar with the Jojo Moyes (who also writes the screenplay here) novel on which its based, but it's still a painful, well-worn reminder that as the Ed Sheeran song goes - heard memorably in the film - that loving can hurt sometimes. Young and quirky Louisa "Lou" Clark (Emilia Clarke) moves from one job to the next to help her family make ends meet. Her cheerful attitude is put to the test when she becomes a caregiver for Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), a wealthy young banker left paralyzed from an accident two years earlier. Will's cynical outlook starts to change when Louisa shows him that life is worth living. Directed by British TV and stage director Thea Sharrock in her feature film debut, "Me Before You" is an engaging, brave romantic drama that reminds you of where the old cinematic term "three hanky movie" originated. Its distinctly British flavor is part of the appeal (a great cup of tea can cure just about anything, except that spinal cord injury) and partly why it may appeal to some, not to mention the unconventional love story - cute woman meets handsome guy in a wheelchair - may resonate with those looking for something different. It also doesn't hurt that "Me Before You" has two leads easy on the eyes, the lovely Clarke from "Game of Thrones" and the rugged Claflin of "Hunger Games"; with Clarke's giggly, wide smile and Claflin's one-eyed smirk, these two have some decent chemistry. There are hardly any surprises in the slow-moving and episodic story, and you'll see where it's going fairly early on, especially as the premise, which is about living, loving and dying with dignity, is revealed mid-film; while the ending is braver and even more controversial than most in this genre (Sparks would've certainly opted for the easier, crowd-pleasing route), don't expect any heavy political statements, or fewer tears for that matter. The calculated but enjoyable "Me Before You" may be a nice change of pace for romance movies, but that doesn't mean you should put away those tissues, as a matter of fact, keep extra stocked up for this one.

#mebeforeyou #emiliaclarke #samclaflin