Yesterday, I watched a movie with my brother Kyle. We watched the movie adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ novel “Me Before You”, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. I caught myself crying in the theater once or twice while watching the film. The hopeless romantic in me reacted to the film right away, but then the critical PWSN/PWD in me was outraged once I got home. Here’s why:
Will (Claflin’s character) is paralyzed from the neck, down to his feet. This is due to an accident involving a motorbike. He rides a wheelchair most of the day, doing nothing exciting and worthwhile. He sees himself as someone who is better off dead. Then Lou (Clarke’s character) comes into his life, and she fills his days with sunshine. Despite his happiness with Lou, Will goes to Switzerland for assisted suicide. In the end, Lou is left with a bank account by Will; he left her money to start a new life and to “live well”.
I took out the romance of the story in the summary I wrote up there, because I’m not here to talk about how love can affect (or not affect) one’s decisions. I’m here to talk about the message of the film. I don’t know what the message is, actually. The only thing I got from the film is that it’s okay to kill yourself when you feel worthless. And that message is NOT a good one.
I know how it feels like to be in Will’s shoes. I, too, am a person with disability (I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder a year and a half ago). I felt useless more than once in my life, too. I attempted to commit suicide, too. But here I am, writing this review/rant essay. See, even if I’m different than “normal”, I still chose to live.
I get it, it’s all about choice. But to show the message that suicide is the solution to your woes to the public as a movie isn’t really a brilliant idea. Many PWD organizations have reacted negatively to this film due to Will’s fate. These people want to let the world know that even if they are differently abled, they can still live life to the fullest. Thus, the hashtag #MeBeforeEuthanasia. Their message is this: all can live boldly, no matter how or who you are.
I totally agree with the PWD organizations. I do believe that everyone has hope in making their lives worth living, and not merely existing. Whether you are fully-abled or not, we all have a shot at being happy. Being “disabled” is not a hindrance for achieving happiness and self-worth. I just wished Will had realized that. Losing everything is not the end of the world.
And so I want you, yes you who are reading this piece, to know that you are loved by many. Many people have your back. There may be reasons to die, but there are always more reasons to live. Live life to the fullest. Love yourself. Love yourself. Life is precious. Don’t waste that gift.
In the end, “Me Before You” was an okay movie, if you want to cry. I just wish the film raised awareness for PWD welfare and mental health awareness instead. The world needs that, not more negativity.