Me Before You: a plot line review from a disabled perspective 

DISCLAIMER: Now let me just say, I am disabled, however I’m not stupid or arrogant enough to suggest myself as some sort of expert on quadraplegia or any disability really. Not even my own. All I know is my own experience and my own views, so, I’m not telling you how to feel about this film, or the actions/reactions of any of the characters. The worlds full of a variety of wonderful personalities and the great thing about it is we can all form our own unique opinions on things.

Oh, and SPOILERS!

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So! Back in April/May when I first saw the advertisement for this film I decided that I wouldn’t be watching it. For two simple reasons, the first being that I wasn’t at all curious to watch yet another romance story with a glaringly-obvious twist of two mismatched people falling in love ‘against all odds’. The second was quite simply that I didn’t relish the idea of watching a ‘normal’ persons idea of how a romance between a physically impaired person and an AB (able-bodied) plays out.

However, finally I succumbed tonight from a mixture of curiosity and boredom (and yes, that is always my excuse for watching films that I’ve previously sworn off). So, after watching it what did I think? Hmmm, well. Honestly, I kinda hated it, at the same time as thinking it’s pretty sweet.

Okay, now I can feel you all collectively glaring at me and telling me to get off the fence, but you see it’s two-sides of my personality battling it out. There’s the weepy, feminine, ‘I love Sam Claflin, cried at Beaches and collect Tatty Teddies’ part of me that loved it, but then there’s the proud and overtly disabled side of my persona that just found it insulting, patronising and more than a little O.T.T.

Okay so, I get the plot line: AB guy, with world at his feet, is involved in tragic accident, becoming quadralised. His lifestyle takes a massive hit, as does his general health, leading him to want to take his own life, but can love save him?  Eye-rollingly obvious and, yes, sweet, and yes I can hear the stampede of women clambering to watch it. But honestly, I watched it and thought that Will (that’s the male protagonists name) was being ridiculously defeatist!

I understand that constant illness and pain can bring you down (understatement) but personally I felt that there was an awful lot that Will was taking for granted, help and care that a lot of people in similar situations don’t have.

For example, he’s obviously from a very privileged background and so (whilst I don’t think money’s everything, nor that it would necessarily make his mental situation any better) he can afford to make changes in his living area to suit him. He’s also able to afford a PA and special-trained nurse. I can tell you that, in reality, if you’re unable to afford these things you either have to fight the government into submission (this may take several years and even then you may not be successful) or else accept a place in a care home, not necessarily bad, but not what most people would want.

Will was incredibly lucky that he had the ability to remain living at home with the correct health channels in place! Also that he had family and friends around him who cared!

For the first 20-odd minutes of the film Will was nothing but rude to Louisa (female protagonist), his parents, the other carer and whoever else tried to engage with him. Now I realise he’s been put in a terrible situation, but seriously! There’s a film that I really like about wheelchair users, called ‘Inside I’m Dancing’ and after one of the main characters acts particularly roguish, his carer reminds him that just because he’s in a wheelchair doesn’t give him the right to act like a tosser. Basically I felt Will could have done with a similar talking to (the slightly peeved few sentences he got from Louisa midway through didn’t count).

But I think the worst thing for me was the impression that we (the audience) got the whole way through, that Will was giving up! Now some people would argue that, in the same situation they’d probably do the same, and that, as I’m not in the situation I should just keep quiet. Fair enough if that’s your viewpoint but, regardless, I still wholeheartedly disagree with Will and his decision. I know that it’s his decision ultimately, but I honestly believe that he was simply being stubborn and so refused to accept the situation that he suddenly found himself in, preferring to give up before he’d really given it a fair shot.

That’s not a fair representation of the attitude of most disabled people toward their disability!

What’s the audience meant to take from that? ‘Living as a quads too difficult so you may as well top yourself’, GET LOST! Now, I’m not quadriplegic, but I know what it’s like to live with a severe illness, and to take ridiculous amounts of medications and suffer with intermittent pain, yada, yada… I DO NOT want to kill myself, nor do I want anyone to feel sorry for me. I lead a full and happy life, but with challenges. So what’s wrong with that?!

I guess my problem with this film is simply that I resent the inference that a challenging life is somehow less worthwhile, especially as I know so many people who show grace and valor when faced with situations considerably more grim than Will’s.

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