(Pictured: Still shot from the reviewed film "Me Before You." The two main characters are on a bucket list holiday. The setting is the beach in the late evening. PA Lou is in a floral navy dress by the water, gazing at Will who's sat nearby in his powerchair)
DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS CONTENT ON ASSISTED SUICIDE WHICH SOME READERS MAY FIND UPSETTING.
I have been dying to see this film since its release in 2016. It's controversial hype in the disability community drew my interest. Many a disabled person have had very negative things to say about the story as it touches on the uncomfortable subject of assisted suicide. I knew from others reviews that my opinion isn't exactly mainstream and I possibly may get some negative feedback from this post, but I'm compelled to write an honest review from someone who has a life limiting condition somewhat comparable to the main character Will Traynor, who has to have PA support day-to-day and who can possibly help open peoples rigid views on why someone once so full of life, may have a very different perspective of what is deemed a GOOD quality of life....
I was right off the bat, I knew this film was going to be a bit too close to home. I'd seen some YouTube clips that'd made me laugh recalling awkward PA experiences, to being rapidly thrown into tears over the very similar circumstance I am in to Will. I don't regret watching it though. Life isn't just about getting to your next goal, it's about the little things like wearing black and yellow stripped tights as an adult like Lou shows us and not caring what others think. It's about experiencing the joys amongst the heartache, the dreams between the nightmares and when there's nothing else to be done...there will always be Love. As cliché and corny as that just sounded, if you can relate to this film at all, you know I'm speaking the truth.
What is my opinion on assisted suicide?
(Pictured: A quote from the "Dying with Dignity" Campaign that reads; "None of us has the right to tell another how much suffering they can and should bear.")
We aren't to judge what is deemed a good quality of life for another human being. We all cope differently and even if we know people much worse off than ourselves, that shouldn't mean our emotions/natural reaction to the circumstances we find ourselves in are any LESS important or justified. We should try and understand where the person is coming from. Sometimes being heard is all some people need. For others it doesn't matter what good intending people do for someone who REALLY believes they have no quality of life, in the long run you can do very little for someone's suffering. Assisted suicide is alot about keeping the persons dignity and giving control back in an uncontrollable situation.
To see that they are suffering rather than living. That the situation is unsustainable in that their condition is terminal in it's eventuality. To sympathise and show raw human compassion for the grief and tragedy this person is going through. In my opinion that's when assisted suicide should be a human right, not just a far fetched option.
However I know that no two persons would cope the same given the exact same set of circumstances. The person does need to be of sound mind, to have clarity that is not clouded by depression or some other mental health concern that could be improved. Said person needs to be evaluated, so all involved know this is what is needed to let this person pass away with the dignity they deserve, dignity that their illness would rob them of if they'd just let it run its course...
So in short I AM for assisted suicide in circumstances where the person is of sound mind and the illness is terminal. We may not be able to control or stop degenerative conditions such as Cancer, Motor Neuron Disease, Parkinsons etc but we can end suffering and if we have the ability to take control back of that persons life, even if only to decide how/when/where to end it...we should. It is the right and humane thing to do. We end animals suffering without a second thought, we know when to do this before they endure too much. The same should go with us!
The character of Will's PA, Louise Clark
(Pictured: A petite brunette woman who plays Louise Clark in a collage, showing the scenes in still images of her eccentric wardrobe for coming to work)
I found the character of Lou Clark a spot on reflection of the types of characters one would expect to interview as a Personal Assistant, but in this case rolled all into one interviewee. That was a clever take on the process! Lou's unique sense of self and witty dress sense, when paired with her youthful awkwardness makes us instantly warm to her as a very realistic, likable character. I LOVE how it was true to face as far as comparing the recruitment process to what it is to a person such as myself in the real world, yet I was equally pleased it still was theatrically appealing without losing its realism. Fair play to attention to detail here to the author and screenwriter Jojo Moyes!
Getting Emotionally Involved
(Pictured: Will Traynor is tilted back in his powerchair in the bathroom, his face covered in shaving foam. Lou is hovering over him with immense concentration on her face, razor in hand as Will let's her shave his beard)
I found the PA-to-client relationship concept at first, awkward. There's a very fine line of professionalism and yet some would say unrealistic expectation in such a profession to keep from becoming too emotionally involved. Nevermind fall in love with the person you get paid to look after and vice versa. It's almost "taboo" ground...
It does happen though. There are a small percentage of disabled individuals who fall for their carers. Sometimes it does actually work out!
I did like how natural the love interest developed despite Will's original hard stance. How Lou, though timid had a loud ROAR to put him in his place. It was all fairly realistic. Especially the scenes with her running enthusiast boyfriend and how she discovered what really mattered to her and in actual fact she didn't have much in common with her boyfriend at all. Their growing love for each other (despite his end decision, let's leave that out of it) taught them both what really mattered in life and if this was real, I'm sure what Lou learnt from Will would of stayed with her for the rest of her days. Perceptions on life and what makes a GOOD life change as we grow and experience hardships aswell as triumphs along our individual journeys. We just need to be open to it in the first place.
This was definitely a tear jerker that has its funny, tender moments that doesn't render it too tragic to watch over again and again. I think it'd be a good film to reflect back on when you need to reinstill our view on how precious life really is. Everybody has moments when they lose sight of what's important afterall. Both main characters did an amazing job at portraying their roles realistically and I can see why this film won awards. This definitely takes pride place as #2 of my Top favourite disability related movies, right after Inside I'm Dancing!
I'm sorry to my fellow disabled activists, but I don't agree with the notion this film promotes the idea that living with severe disability is so terribly awful we should all turn to suicide. You've got to take the film for what it was, an individual account of a young man who had the world and lost it all (in his mind) from one careless step into a busy road. It was the drastic shift in circumstance that cemented his belief that HIS, not our view of his, but HIS LIFE from the time of the accident had ended. From that point on although he could take some pleasure in the little things, the bigger picture meant too much to him and just like the "Dying with Dignity" campaign says, it's not for us to tell someone else how much suffering they can or should bear. End of. The whole film showed Lou and Will's parents filling his days with happy memories in an attempt to change his mind, so it's not like this film was just some disabled guy who wanted to die because his life was that horrendous and evidently succeeded. On the contrary the banter and experiences along the journey to Will taking his life were very heartwarming and full of life in my opinion. It was SO much more than just the ending. Of course nobody should willy nilly give up because life is rough after an accident such as Will's. That wasn't what this film was saying at all. In my opinion it was saying Yes, life is still enjoyable especially if you focus on the little things to make up the bigger picture....but sometimes nomatter what you do, you cannot change a person's mindset. There's 1/4 of the disabled population that agree with Will and would do the same thing given the RIGHT to die.
I am not one of those people, but I'm under no disillusion that I could be further down the line as my MD robs me of what "I" deem as good quality of life.
I'd like to hear others thoughts on the film and whether it hit home with anybody else in the way it did me. Please comment below :)