June 13, 2016



Due to the serious subject matter of the film "Me Before You" (euthanasia), and the fact that most people already know how the movie ends (euthanasia), combined with the fact that the film is based on a novel by the same name that came out in 2012, this entire movie review will be one big spoiler. Advance at your own risk.


This British film maintains the light air of a romantic comedy throughout, overlaid with tear-jerking moments and the sweetest violins. Unlike a Jodi Picoult story that explores controversial issues as serious dramas, "Me Before You" more or less accepts assisted suicide as a valid option and a part of life (irony intended). Suicide, in fact, is sexy and sweet. As sexy as a gorgeous, wealthy, young quadriplegic, Will (Sam Claflin from "Hunger Games"), and as sweet as his new, bubbly, Kimmy-Schmidt-like caretaker, Lou (Emilia Clarke from "Game of Thrones"). And it's not just our main characters that are comely, the actual moment of Will's demise is preceded by jokes, kisses, smiles and lots of sunshine pouring in the window--all set to swirling, swelling strings.

The film starts off in a sort of saccharine, almost overly simplistic way: from Will's insanely perfect life with his girlfriend to Lou's insanely ditzy existence. But this caricature-ish, one-dimensionality never quite inflates into two or three dimensions, even at the most poignant moments.


Lou eventually gets under the embittered and sarcastic Will's skin with her perpetually cheery, optimistic and endearing demeanor, coupled with her highly original fashion choices. The dialogue and gentle sparring is genuinely witty and charming. The plot machinations are funny. At one point, while the "superior" Will is trying to school Lou about life, Lou comes back at him with a knowing description of how the type of upwardly mobile woman Will is encouraging her to be actually fares in the end. Lou is not as dumb as she looks.

Lou finds out about Will's plan to undergo euthanasia in Switzerland in only six months' time. She and his mother (who also is hoping along with Lou that he'll change his mind) put their heads together to try to get Will to enjoy life again, get out and do things as best he can in his motorized wheelchair. Will obliges, but more for Lou than for himself. However, he is thoroughly enjoying her company.


When Will finally tells Lou about Switzerland, she tells him she already knows. Will then begins to lay out before her his reasoning. He liked his old life. A lot. (He was also very athletic.) Is Will trying to say what is said of dementia patients in order to euthanize them? That he's not really "himself" anymore? Sorry. The "self" remains till the last breath--no matter what condition the mind or body is in. Will doesn't mention his prognosis as part of his justification for ending his life, but Lou gets that information from others: Will's main problem is his spinal cord which can't be fixed. He's on lots of medications and is weak and vulnerable to infections. He has recurring pneumonia. He is often in pain. In his nighttime dreams he is active once again, but wakes up screaming when he realizes he's paralyzed.

In "Me Before You," quality of life is more important than life itself. Will wants his old life back. He resists change (as horrible as the changes in his life are) and moving forward. But who can ever "have their old life back"? And for how long? In a few more decades, he will be elderly and unable to do all things he loves to do anyway.

A brief discussion about the morality of assisted suicide is put in the mouth of Lou's cross-wearing, grace-at-meals-praying mother: "There are some choices we don't get to make! It's no different from murder! You can't be a part of it," she tells her daughter. Lou is not sure if she did the right thing by refusing to go with Will to Switzerland to be with him when he dies as he had asked her. Lou's Dad simply says: "We can't change people." (True enough.) Lou had tried so hard to change Will's mind. When Lou asks in return: "Then what can we do?" Dad says: "Just love them." Her Dad instead encourages her to join Will and his parents in Switzerland. (Lou, of course, is not materially cooperating in getting Will to Switzerland--others did that--she is only "being there" for him while he knows she still doesn't agree with his decision.)


The title is curious. Who is "me"? Who is "you"? Although Lou begs Will not to go through with his lethal plan, promising to stay with him, Will tells her that his mind has been made up from the beginning and that he has never wavered, not even for her. He will not stay alive for her. She brought some joy into what he has determined to be the end of his life, and he did his part trying to bring her out of her shell and get her to dream big--but this eleventh hour fling was only in the context of a promise he made to his parents: he would give them only six more months. The sacrifice (even though Lou is a well-paid employee of Will's mother) seems to be all on Lou's part. This does not seem to be a true, reciprocal love story. If he had stayed alive for her, it would have been. You can't be in love with a ghost and share life with a ghost (all apologies to Patrick Swayze). Will also hints that because they won't be able to have a married life with sex and children, she doesn't know for a fact that she won't have regret in the future for having stayed with him. Will has NO STORY ARC. NONE. Neither does Lou, really either. There are no major changes or transformations in this entire story. What is this story, then? Either it's an aesthetically-pleasing but poorly told story OR simply propaganda for euthanasia.


What is the point of this book/movie? Why was it created? To make euthanasia more palatable? "It's his choice" is stated over and over again. Yes, of course, suicide has always been a choice, an option. A very sad and tragic one, one that people choose only in utmost desperation, and one that humanity has always tried to talk and help its constituents out of. Will says: "I'm not the kind of man who can accept this." (Who can really "accept" a tragedy such as quadriplegia?) And yet people do "accept" it all the time. Look at the brilliant and drastically compromised Stephen Hawking (who suffers from ALS) who presses on with humor and an indomitable will to live, still contributing to the world of science). Although, sadly, he has evidently said he will look into euthanasia when he can no longer do what he wants to do.

There is no mention of God as the master of life and death. No mention of going back to God at death. (Although there is a belief in some kind of an afterlife when Will tells Lou he will be right by her side all through her life. Which is also strangely creepy. What if she gets married?) No mention of what dying naturally would be like (most likely he will diminish irreparably in just a few years and die naturally then anyway). No mention of redemptive suffering: the fact that suffering purifies us and can be offered up for others. No mention of the fact that we go on living till the last gun is fired. What if there are still important lessons for him to learn, indispensable bits of living still to be lived? Others who need to come in contact with him--whose lives he can grace? And of course, as believers, we would want to grow daily in our relationship with God as much as possible on this earth before we leave it.

"Me Before You" has to be classified as a pro-euthanasia film. It's like a sugar-coated poison pill. Our world is on a slippery slope to CELEBRATING suicide. What happened to helping each other live, not die? What happened to hope? Does this mean we shouldn't stop people from jumping off ledges? After all, it's their choice. "Hey, buddy! Hold it right there! We respect your choice, and we don't really care if you die or not, so just hold on and we'll get you a physician to 'assist' you...."


--"Me Before You" is a watershed film. In a bad way. A really bad way. It occurred to me that the whole point of film is conflict, dramatic tension, resolving seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But what if suicide begins to lurk prominently as the go-to option in cinema, in our own life? NO STORY. Yes--Will had a very challenging life as a quadriplegic, but euthanasia legislation is very, very broad and includes reasons like "emotional distress." "Me Before You" is a bold, ugly new dimension to the culture of death. (And I think people instinctively recognized this about MBY--one of the reasons the film is so buzzy--even if many can't put words to their discomfiture.)

--"Me Before You" is only one of several recent much-lauded pro-euthanasia films: "One True Thing," "The Sea Inside," "Million Dollar Baby," "Amour."

--Death can only be bittersweet when it's inevitable, not when it's a planned control-move.

--Will didn't take his own advice to Lou to "live boldly." He quit.
From Instagram:

--Toward the beginning of the film, Will makes Lou watch "Of Gods and Men" (with French subtitles) about the Trappist-martyrs of Algiers who chose to stay with the people and be killed rather than abandon their mission. Lou says: "They could have left!" (and saved their lives). Will says something like: "But their lives had more meaning because of their action" (likening it to his own planned assisted-suicide)? The Trappist-martyrs were not suicides.

--What is a "culture of death"? It is a culture that has separated body (the physical) and soul (the spiritual). It is a culture that sees death as not only a valid solution, but a good solution. Not only a good solution but the best solution. Abortion is the "loving" thing to do. Euthanasia is "dignity." War and violence are easily invoked.

--We all know or know of someone who has committed suicide. Some were terminally ill and in excruciating pain. Some were mentally ill or at their wit's end for whatever reason. Some were facing a desperate or dangerous situation or life. Some had no family or love or basic resources. Some were depressed or bullied teens. Suicide was not the best solution--palliative care (to relieve the pain of terminal illness), proper psychiatric care and medication, better circumstances or a societal safety net would have been the best solution. But they are now in God's mercy: God who alone sees our state of mind and reads our hearts. St. Therese of Lisieux (who suffered immensely at the end of her life) warned: never leave potent medication within reach of a suffering person.

--Check out this organization/hotline and other organizations for suicide prevention:  www.samaritanshope.org

--The majority of failed suicide attempts are grateful to have NOT succeeded. They were temporarily in so much pain (of whatever kind) that they couldn't see any other way out. These people go on to embrace life and help others who are feeling suicidal.

--In today's Western society, the young in particular seem to want to insulate themselves from any kind of unpleasantness, discomfort, difference of opinion, negative experience. They don't even want to hear certain words that might be "triggers." This is a mentality ripe for euthanasia. What will happen when real tragedy strikes? Illness or accidents? Won't it be simply unbearable? I'm not saying that young people today haven't suffered a lot already in their young lives--only that the best way to cope with suffering is not always avoidance. Check out C. S. Lewis' weighty little book: "The Problem of Pain."

--If you're a Christian, we have a whole 'nother take on suffering. We believe it can be redemptive. Check out John Paul II's "On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering," written after he was shot.

--"Take up your cross and follow me." --Jesus

--Think about this: It's human nature that when we know we don't have an easy option, we make do. We challenge ourselves. We find a way. Give us an easy out? We'll often take the path of least resistance.

--Should euthanasia be granted for any reason? Hey, it's all about choice, right? How about this one: unwanted sexual attractions. This man "doesn't want to be gay": http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/will-belgium-grant-euthanasia-for-unwanted-sexual-attraction/11911


--This rush to legalize euthanasia everywhere (now legal in 5 U.S. States, with Canada on the verge of passing a sweeping euthanasia bill) is like a massive, worldwide deathwish.

--In its original form, the horrifying Canadian euthanasia Bill C-14 would include: "mature minors" (um, aren't children by definition not mature yet?), the mentally ill(!), and just about anyone having a bad day. It's not all about terminal illness and the elderly--as bad enough as that is. This is about death on demand. Death on tap. Society agreeing that the world is better off without you and you are better off without you. This is society participating in your suicide.

--Needless to say, the disabled community is not thrilled with MBF: "Disabled Want To See Different Ending at Flicks": http://www.pressreader.com/canada/toronto-star/20160606/281874412670125

--Quadriplegic author angry about his memoir's inclusion in 'Me Before You' via  "Quadriplegia isn't the end of life, it's the beginning of a new life...."

--Check out my friend Taylor's video:

--One of the many problems with culture-of-death solutions is that they decrease the overall value of human life in both theory and practice. And in countries like the Netherlands that have had euthanasia for a long time, IT'S NO LONGER A MATTER OF CHOICE. Are you an old person with no family to advocate for you? You're taking up a hospital bed. Bye bye.

--Euthanasia is WICKED BAD FOR THE ECONOMY. There are entire industries and jobs surrounding care of the sick, disabled and old. The only one who profits from euthanasia? Governments (more money in governmental coffers and pockets), insurance companies (no payouts/coverage) and the organ transplant industry.

--Thankfully, at least a Canadian First Nations Manitoba MP (member of Parliament) said his spiritual beliefs prevent him from voting for euthanasia, as well as the fact that there is an ongoing suicide crisis among native teens. What kind of message does "suicide is dignity" send to them? http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/05/04/robert-falcon-ouellette-assisted-dying-c-14_n_9843314.html

--So what kind of a life is WORTH living? Is it like President Obama said would be the focus of Obamacare: we'll concentrate on ages 15-55 because the young and the old need too much care?

--THEOLOGY OF THE BODY? We don't get to separate our body from our soul. We didn't put them together, we don't get to take them apart.

--Would you like to know what I really think about suicide and euthanasia? @#$%& death.



  1. Sr. Helene, thank you so much for your frank review and assessment of euthanasia. A friend had given me this book telling me how fantastic it was. After reading it I was offended and upset. Now that the movie came out she is trying to get to go see it, I've refused. It seems ironic that in a culture which touts tolerance and acceptance someone in a wheelchair is portrayed as having a life not worth living. This movie is offensive on so many levels it boggles my mind anyone would spent $12 to go see it. It's the ultimate in selfishness , he doesn't care how his suicide will affect his parents or the woman he supposedly loves. All I can say is it's shameful.

    1. But the sly approach here is that WILL doesn't think his OWN life is worth living. So it's not as though someone else is making that judgment call. As sad as that is, it gets sadder when society agrees, and then that's just a hair away from society deciding for you, especially when you are no longer able to make "the decision" for yourself. As though there should even be a question.

  2. Hi Sister, this is fille_du_fleuve -- just dropping a note to say Taylor Hyatt did an awesome video presentation! Just WOW!