Please do not read if you intend to watch the movie…
I finally went to the cinema to see the praised and condemned film Me Before You. The movie welcomed by those who appreciate love stories that do not have necessarily a happy ending because such is life sometimes and strictly refused by those who see in it a hidden advertisement for assisted suicide.
The story is simple, sort of fairy-tale like – picturing a handsome rich man Will bound to a wheelchair and his caretaker Louisa – a young, a bit naive woman with big eyes and contagious smile falling in love with each other. At the beginning they spend together a lot of time not communicating much. She is spontaneous, naturally happy person, without big goals in her life, loves extravagant outfits and enjoys every moment without much of asking what will be next. Him on the contrary is closed, full of painful memories about his life BEFORE, immobile with physical pain and no will to continue. It is his humour and irony that become opening door for both of them to come closer. Once she accidentally overhears his intention to end his life she puts all her energy into “saving him”. He lives for this energy, adores her liveliness and cheerful behaviour and wants to make her happy by agreeing on taking all the activities she chooses to do and he had never done since his accident. She believes she can manage, she cannot admit to herself that there could be a different ending of HER story she imagines for her, for them. She is heartbroken when he announces her that despite the wonderful time he had since long and the love he feels towards her he still chooses to leave her. In fact leave her forever.
The major argument for the opposers of the film and its idea of “opting out” was the fact, that despite we see the improvement of Will state, mood and enjoyment in general he chooses not to live. Meaning – there is not such a terrible state that justifies the euthanasia. This would be a subject for a long and heated debate about creation and gift of life etc. However, in my opinion this story is not advocating euthanasia. It simply shows the despair of a human being and their limits as what they can and cannot accept in order to go on. The film is realistic in depicting the struggle of Will´s parents, Louisa vis-a-vis his choice. It would be not fair to say that it is a pretty advertisement how easy it could be. On the contrary, it is heartbreaking and hard to witness the struggle. How hard it must be to go through it? As a person who went through an excruciating pain in past 4 years I can tell that the ides of ending own life comes as an option when one is utterly desperate. It does not mean that it comes to realisation. We possess such a strong will to live that I bet everybody tries everything and hard not to come to this bitter end. But I also believe that we cannot possibly imagine what somebody else goes through. We might fight for them, we might help and persuade them to try again and again. We can ask them to find professional help, do this or that but we cannot change somebody´s emotions, feelings, perceptions, pain,coping strategies, etc.
Louisa felt miserable and failing saying: “I failed.” Her father told her wisely: “Louisa, we cannot change other people.””So what do we do?”, she asked. “We love them.”
This is for me the main message of this beautiful story. No matter what road in life is taken, what decisions are made we must love those who are close to our heart. Their choices might hurt an awful lot. Hopefully everybody is doing their best. We must believe that if they could have done something differently, they would.