Last week I went to the pictures to see ‘Me Before You’ with my two daughters. Well, I’d heard it was a bit of a weepy but, heavens above! My children relentlessly tease me about how, when they were little, I used to cry at all the Disney films and they were known, on occasion, to impishly shout , ‘Are your eyes watering, Mummy?’
‘Nooo,’ I would reply, whilst surreptitiously blowing my nose.
‘They are! They are! Mummy’s crying again,’ they would shout triumphantly to their friends, having caught me out yet again. I think Jack Frost, about a guy who is killed in a car accident and comes back as a snowman was the most embarrassing showdown, although they insist Monsters Inc was the one they remember most.
‘I did not cry at Monsters Inc’ I insisted.
‘Yes, you so did,’ they chorused.
Hmmmph! Anyway, suffice to say, however much I think to myself ‘It’s only a film, it’s only a film’ I have been known to reach for the tissues on many occasions.
But this film got to us all. I mean, really got to us. In fact, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. It was about a young, good looking, extrovert guy in his twenties who is left paralysed and wheel-chair bound, having been mown down by a motorbike. In the first part of the film it illustrates how angry and frustrated he is with his lot in life and how gradually, through meeting Louisa, a very natural, bubbly, effervescent girl in her twenties who, desperate for money, takes a job caring for him, his life is transformed. She initially tip toes around his bolchy comments and angry outbursts, but gradually she starts to treat him as an equal and just treats him like a fellow human being, rather than a man in a wheelchair who needs constant medication and physiotherapy.
On overhearing a conversation between his parents, she realises that, a few months hence, he wants to end his life at Dignitas in Switzerland and, horrified at this prospect, she sets out on a mission to change his mind by challenging him to do things he otherwise would never have thought possible. They go to the wedding of his ex-girlfriend and whizz round the dancefloor in his wheelchair, she sitting on his lap the whole time to metaphorically stick two fingers up to the pitying faces of the assembled guests. They go horse racing. They go to the opera. She even whisks him away on holiday (along with his physio) and ultimately falls in love with him.
I don’t want to spoil it for you by spilling the beans on what eventually happens, but I think the reason that this film is so powerful and really resonates with everyone who goes to see it is this: we take so much for granted. We moan and groan about all manner of things in life instead of celebrating how ruddy fantastic it is. I mean, how often does a year go by and we do nothing extraordinary in our lives? In fact, let’s face it, how often do 5 years go by without us actually getting out there and actually living? How often do we actually get out of the hamster wheel of life and plan to do something that we know will make us really happy? How often do we wake up in the morning and make a conscious effort to make every second count and really embrace life? How often do we really appreciate and celebrate all those little things we take for granted; our health, our vision, our hearing, our speech, our independence? It’s only when these things are taken away, that we realise how very lucky we were to have them in the first place. Just a thought…