Review: Clarke shines in weepy romance ‘Me Before You’

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Emilia Clarke gives a luminous, buoyant performance in “Me Before You,” lighting up the screen like a spotlight is following her every move.

Clarke plays Louisa Clark, a bubbly ultra-optimist who signs on to be a caregiver to Will Traynor (Sam Claflin, magnetic), a well-to-do playboy who winds up a quadriplegic after a motorcycle accident.

Traynor plans to end his life through an assisted suicide facility in Switzerland, but Clark aims to give him a reason to live. Their relationship slowly blossoms, but Jojo Moyes’ screenplay — adapted from her own massively popular 2012 novel — avoids cliched romance and disability trappings at every turn.

And while this could easily wither into movie-of-the-week material, director Thea Sharrock brings humanity, truth and heart to the screen. By the time it becomes a first-class weepie, its tears are earned.

The third main character in the film is Clark’s quirky fashion sense, and her frilly sweaters, colorful skirts, playful leggings and marvelous footwear beam with a life of their own.

But it’s Clarke who steals the show.

Clarke, who plays the Khaleesi on “Game of Thrones,” stalled in a previous bid at big-screen stardom when last summer’s “Terminator Genisys” was terminated at the box office. But “Me Before You” should do the job: She is absolutely radiant in the role, charming the audience with the same wide-eyed optimism she does Traynor.

Clark’s sparkle is similar to when Julia Roberts graced the screen in “Pretty Woman.” Get used to her, she’ll be around for awhile.

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‘Me Before You’

GRADE: B+

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some suggestive material

Running time: 110 minutes