Me Before You: How the Movie Changed the Story

Louisa and Will.
Louisa and Will.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes was a definite literary hit. Not only did it become a New York Times bestseller, but it had the privilege of being adapted into movie form. Many fans couldn’t wait for there beloved couple to hit the big screens, but were shortly after quite upset by the movie’s rendition. The movie definitely left out some critical details that were important to the plot and the characters development, but how exactly did they change the story?

Louisa’s Sexual Assault Subplot is Forgotten

Throughout the book, Louisa’s sexual assault is frequently mentioned and definitely explains a lot of things about her character. Without the rape scene in the maze, we don’t know why Louisa dresses in such an unusual fashion, or why she’s so reserved towards men. It also helps us understand her relationship with Will because she eventually tells him about her assault, when she hasn’t even told her own parents or longterm boyfriend. The movie chose to just have this subplot removed entirely, leaving a lot of questions unanswered.

Will Traynor’s Family Life is Changed Drasticly

I’m sure we’re all aware that cinematically there definitely isn’t as much time to explain everything that happens with characters as the novel does, but the movie chose to reveal very little about the Traynor family. The movie chooses to ignore the fact that Will’s father is having an open affair that practically the entire town knows about. The book even mentions their inevitable divorce that will arise after Will’s death. They even depict Mr. and Mrs. Traynors relationship as normal. That is completely different than the family dynamic that was created by the book. The movie also deleted an essential character, Will’s sister. It was his sisters angry outburst that actually informed Louisa that Will was planning to kill himself, and she also appeared a few other times throughout the story. Without explaining Will’s family life you can never fully understand how he grew to have the personality that he did.

Louisa and Her Sister’s Relationship Changed

Louisa and her sister, Treena.
Louisa and her sister, Treena.

In the movie, Louisa and her sister were depicted as normal, loving sisters. Sadly, in the novel that was not the case. Treena, Louisa’s sister, was actually quite mean and selfish. She was constantly calling Louisa stupid and felt that she was more entitled because she had attended a University, while Louisa had not. Several times the reader found themselves hating Treena, where the movie had you loving her. There were a few caring moments between the two, but they definitely did not have the great relationship the movie gave them. This isn’t a super significant part of the book, but it was still critical for understanding Louisa’s demeanor.

Louisa and Patrick’s Relationship is Different

In the movie, Patrick really isn’t as big of a character as he is in the book. In the novel, their break up is a much more serious ordeal. Not only have they moved in together (an effect of Patrick’s jealousy of Will) but their entire break up scene is much more serious, and personal. The movie also doesn’t mention that since she now has to move out of Patrick’s apartment, she moves into the Annex with Will. Louisa’s and Patricks relationship crumbling was the very thing that helped further her and Will’s relationship, so it is a pretty important factor.

Patrick’s Betrayal is left Unmentioned

Patrick and Louisa.
Patrick and Louisa.

In the book, Louisa confides in Patrick before the break-up and says that Will plans to commit suicide. Shortly after their breakup, Patrick sells the story to the press knowing it would be a big deal due to the Traynor family’s status. That not only causes great embarrassment and stress for Will’s parents, but it also hurts Louisa’s future as well. The movie doesn’t add this topic in at all, so we never really see Patrick’s true character. The movie actually occasionally led you to feel sympathetic for Patrick’s character, which probably would not have happened if his betrayal had been included on screen. The book never once wanted you to feel any sympathy for Patrick, and the movie allowing that distracted you from Louisa and her conflicts.

Louisa’s Determination Is Downgraded

In the book, you could find Louisa searching frantically for places to take Will, actively on chat rooms with other paraplegic loved ones and survivors, and doing everything she could to try and save Will’s life. In the movie, she gave up a lot easier than the book allowed her too. She tried yes, but she tried so much harder in the book. She thought of it as her job to save Will’s life, and she was not going to take no for an answer. Without all that determination, it was hard to understand why Louisa was so hurt by her efforts not being enough in the end.

Details of Louisa and Will’s Relationship are Erased

There were plenty of romantic moments in the novel that did not quite make the cut for the movie. It leaves out the wonderful experience of them getting impromptu tattoos with one another. That is a critical turning point in the storyline that shows how close they are becoming, but the movie chose not to include it. In the movie, the characters also never said I love you, but in the book Louisa is quite adamant about her love for Will. Without the mention of their actual love, it leaves you wondering how much depth there really was to their relationship. The movie really couldn’t spend as much time developing their love, so they really should have put in valid proof to assure the audience that it was actually there.

Why the Movie Made These Decisions

How is it decided what details will make it to the big screen and which ones remain unheard on the pages? That is a question that is never fully answered. Perhaps there simply was not enough time allotted in the film to really dive into all of this extra information, no matter the amount of value it would have added to the characters. Quite possibly they felt that all of these additional topics would distract from the the main storyline, which was Will and Louisa’s love. If they took the time to include subplots like Louisa’s assault or the complexities of family life, then maybe that would direct the viewers focus in a direction they did not want to go. There were so many small details that if the movie had introduced them, they probably wouldn’t of had time to conclude them.

Even Still, Both Were Moving Stories

Yes, the movie may have left out some important details, but what movie doesn’t? There most certainly is not enough time in movies to include every little detail authors offer us in print. If so, we would be sitting there for days! The movie still kept pretty accurately to the storyline and kept the ending the same, which was incredibly important to a lot of people. Each version may have their differences but the love is felt in both stories. Me Before You is a remarkable love story that can be appreciated no matter the format.

Louisa and Will's first date.
Louisa and Will’s first date.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Joellen

    I love romantic movies to end the way I like books to end, with that happy feel good ever after and together forever style. I stay away from movies and books that end otherwise, for me movies and books have always been a way for me to escape the real world. Real life doesn’t always have happy endings that’s why there are books and movies to offer escape from such times.

  2. This movie was kind of like a much less cynical, grown up version of The Fault in Our Stars. I wonder if the books are the same.

  3. tenyears

    I’ve had read the book before seeing the movie so I was expecting a lot from the adaptation and I can say that Thea Sharrock have done an outstanding job!

  4. Beckett

    This movie introduced me to quadriplegia, a condition I had never heard of before watching this movie. It makes you think about some pretty deep ethical questions too.

  5. I had high hopes for this film. Whilst reading the book, a friend had tried to get me to watch the film as she said it was fantastic! I refused and continued with the book. I grew to love the characters (and hate some of them – Patrick for one). And I cried at points throughout. When I’d finished, I sat down to watch the film.

    It was shocking! There are lots that can’t be put into a film that are in a book, but if you’re going to go to the trouble and the expense to make a film, do the author justice.

  6. Felt a little rushed towards the end and some scenes reminded me of BBC’s Jane Eyre.

  7. I saw “Me before You” a few days ago and it was just amazing !! I adore watching love stories,with people who fall in love but their love is impossible… It’s incredible how movies can affect people.

  8. I saw the film at a preview screening and having never read the book or known anything about the plot prior, I can honestly say I loved it. A hilarious, heartwarming, heartbreakingly beautiful film.

  9. Tick-Tock

    This is the best movie I have ever seen, and believe me, I have seen hundreds of movies, but nothing is compared to this one.

  10. Pantoja

    The book wasn’t great, but i liked it anyway (shame on me) and so wanted to check out the movie. The movie is disgustingly bad…

  11. The story for this one, I been told, is much more believable and interesting on the pages of the best seller book by the same author that wrote the script. And that’s a bit confusing as why would a successful piece of literature would turn into a very sloppy, cheesy, inconsequential film. The main problem I have with it is, however, the amount of clichés that keep coming one after other.

  12. I thought it was beautifully produced and it was an excellent film.

  13. I agree that the movie and book differ in many ways, and appreciate your comparison of the two. By observing the discrepancy between the two mediums, one is able to see both the limits and advantages of turning a novel into a film. The explanation you provide for why the movie omitted many details I think showcases the downfalls of such transfer. However, I also think a film can accomplish more than a novel in certain respects. Inserting music, varying the camera angle and changing the zoom all add more meaning to the message of the particular scene, techniques that cannot be executed in written work.

  14. Davida Lai

    I LOVED the book and am about to read the sequel.

  15. I loved this film.

  16. Sprague

    I got to know about this movie from my teacher at school (german school), we talk about this theme and she suggest me read the book! I wish was a happy end, but like real life sometimes we don’t get all painted in rose!

  17. This is not a story about love, it’s a story about selfishness.

  18. This is a sappy romance. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s really uninspired in its execution.

  19. I have read both of the books, but have yet to see the movie. Unfortunately it seems as though another perfect example of movie versions leaving the book reader disappointed. I am interested now though, to watch the movie and see how the absence of these plot points changes the story line and the audience’s relationship with the characters.

  20. Great article, books turned into movies is very popular now a days and it seems that many movies can live up to their book counterparts.

  21. This has to be one of my least favorite romantic styled novels to read, but upon reflecting on the novel there were some aspects of it that I found moving or impactful. Now reading this article, I see that all of the things that made this book somewhat moving were taken out for the movie.

  22. I’m interested in reading the book. I saw the film and it was okay.

  23. I liked the book better. The film felt very rushed. You can tell that they tried to cram as much content into it as possible.

  24. I would say it is nice to reading book rather than movie though it was nice but book is super cool to read.

  25. itsverity

    I liked all of the comparisons you made. I read the book long before I saw the film, so there were a couple of things you mentioned that I had forgotten about. I want to mention the first comparison you made because that stood out to me as well. I agree that the sexual assault subplot added so much to Lou’s character. It really struck me in the book and I felt like I understood her so much better. But how could the movie have done that justice? Like you said, film directors must choose which details to keep and which ones to omit often based on a limited time frame. Because the main storyline was Will and Louisa’s love, there was much less time to devote to other details. Had the directors wanted to keep the sexual assault subplot, they would have to address it fairly quickly. And because it is such a rich and painful section of the novel, I don’t think they could have incorporated all of that into a short amount of time. I like to think that rather than trying to rush such an important moment, the directors chose to omit the detail because the couldn’t give it the attention it deserves.

  26. I read about this book and movie while hunting for a good romance and I ended up feeling like I got more than what I had bargained -the story was heartbreaking to say the least, a more grown up cynical version of The Fault In Our Stars as many said. But all through the movie, I kept feeling that it was incomplete in some way. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it; I kept feeling like the motivation behind characters were not properly portrayed, even without reading the book and now I know I was right to feel so. While it was a great movie, I think I should go back and read the book to put my mind at ease and figure out those missing parts for myself.

  27. I found this insightful, because I watched the film and read the second book, but not the first. I definitely found this useful and makes me want to read the first book.

  28. Jenvieve

    This is a very good article, but please have someone proofread your work before publishing it on the internet.

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