Me Before You


The movie “Me Before You” presents an emotional case for euthanasia by exhaustively exploring rational alternatives and summarily dismissing each of them in turn as profoundly inconvenient.  Fundamental moral questions are all too easily overwhelmed by the restrained and intelligent ruminations of the leading character and the heartbreakingly intense compassion of the supporting cast.  Dramatic license allows the writers to raise hurdles to each potential alternative to unusual heights suggesting a purpose driven, even a wider political, agenda. 


It is a small tale with a minimal cast and with a single relentless focus unburdened by subplots or complicating dramatic twists.    Nevertheless the story is unusually well crafted.   Each character rings true with a vibrancy that is a delight to witness as events unfold.


What is also striking is the delicate balance between hope and despair.  Joyful compassion is as much celebrated as it is found ultimately insufficient.   Nor is the irony of an exceptional young man, with more than abundant family resources, reveling in athletic prowess, and having fortuitously found the love of his life, but losing it all in a tragic accident, in any way overplayed.  Rather the role is endowed with an intelligent well mannered dignity and even an unexpected magnanimous consideration for the embarrassment of others.


But by far the star of every scene is the designated heart throb, to wit an under privileged, attractively feminine, young woman whose infectious joy of living never wavers or appears strained or is untrue to character.    That the hero and heroine so effectively resonate with a shared emotional enthusiasm is charming and underplayed and never tiring and unfailingly leaves the audience yearning for more.


But life is not so simple nor the presumed right to end it so easily justified in any thoughtful moral context.  Fortunately perhaps, thoughtfulness does seem to appear anywhere in the presentation.  Rather the audience is entirely captivated by the delicate charm and gentle beauty and an apparently refreshing honesty which seamlessly and resolutely sweeps away deeper considerations.


Nevertheless, to the extent this story presents the moral choice of ending one’s life as being somehow justified as an act of intelligence and courage or even as one of self-sacrifice is unfortunate.  And more so, that the surviving heroine is consequently rescued from want, and that all this provides a happy ending, is self-deluding.


The bedrock consideration, of course, is that in the rush to dramatize what was lost, one loses sight of what is left.  If killing someone is morally wrong anywhere, it is wrong everywhere.   This is because without an absolute standard, morality dissolves in the dirty dishwater of relativism becoming as murky as it would be pointless.   And morality is the fundamental glue that holds our individual lives and indeed all of society together.


All in all, it is a wonderfully sensitive movie that unfortunately attempts to delude one’s conscience with deceptive extremes prohibiting rational alternatives.  So because this plot rests at rock bottom on a falsehood, despite the undeniable beauty of the presentation, I could not, reluctantly and regretfully, recommend it.