Over the past few weeks, I have heard that there was some backlash in the disabled community over the new movie Me Before You. It is basically about a successful businessman who becomes paralyzed after getting hit by a motorcycle and as a result falls in love with his caregiver. Spoiler alert, he decides to go through the process of assisted suicide. This is a hot button issue but the movie does not advocate that you should kill yourself if you are disabled. I watched this movie the other day and there are a variety of things to get out of this movie.
The movie did a great job at shining a light on the daily struggles of the disabled. One major thing is that the disabled, myself included, require 24/7 care. In the movie, William had two nurse’s aides. The one handled the tough things such as getting him up and using the restroom. Will’s family hired an additional aide, Louisa, to be more of a companion. She would basically hang out with him and feed him for the most part.
As if the care wasn’t enough, there are some social challenges as well. The movie represented that perfectly. In one scene, Louisa and the other aide took Will to a horse race. As they deployed the ramp of the handicapped van in the lot, Will’s chair gets stuck in the mud. They tried pushing him out of the mud to no avail. Then Louisa calls over some guys to help even though Will was pleading her not to. This scene revealed that places just are not handicapped friendly enough. But also reveals that the disabled are apprehensive about asking for help because it can be embarrassing. I am guilty of avoiding help in certain situations as well because it makes me feel like an idiot. Hence, I avoid being alone in public because I would feel weird asking a stranger to say adjust my arm when my hand falls off the joystick of my wheelchair.
The movie also showed how some people just do not understand how to interact with the disabled. Louisa’s family invited Will to dinner at their house. Upon arriving, Louisa’s father tries to shake his hand then quickly realizes that was wrong. Will took it in stride and stated, “I’ll just have to give you a nod.” During the dinner, Louisa’s soon to be ex-boyfriend, who was a fitness trainer, mentioned to Will that he knows of an exercise that could help him. Louisa got annoyed but Will just said “No its fine, thank you.” That is literally the worst thing to say to a disabled person especially a quadriplegic. Some disabled individuals simply get no benefit from exercise when you can barely move your arms! I’ve had people tell me to lift weights and I just laugh it off.
I enjoyed these parts of the movie because I could relate to these issues. It really showed what the disabled go through on a daily basis. What was great about the movie was that it showed that love is a possibility even though you are disabled. Will and Louisa had a great relationship even though they didn’t get along when they first met. Once they started talking, there were definitely sparks. They both learned much from each other and Louisa was adamant about getting Will out of the house and live life to the fullest. She overheard that Will was considering assisted suicide and she was trying ways to change his mind. She really was falling for Will. She accompanied him to the marriage and reception of his ex. Louisa was there to help Will stick it to his ex who left him for his best friend after the accident. Louisa went to dance with Will and jumped on his lap while he spun her in circles. They simply wanted to have fun and did not care if anybody was staring.
They had a great time and a few days after that night, they traveled to a handicapped friendly beach resort for vacation. They did some interesting things but once Will told her about his decision to go through with assisted suicide, she was completely devastated. She believed that she could change his mind. Yet Will explained that before he met her, he was independent, successful, lived and loved the way that he wanted. With his paralysis he could no longer live the way that he wanted. Even though Will had money, a large house and a private plane and somebody to love, it was not enough for him to continue to live. His pain was too much. I do not agree with his decision because as a disabled individual myself I believe that life is worth it despite your limitations and challenges. However, I could never understand the pain of his situation. He was cut down in his prime and had a really full life and then all that was turned on its head. My situation was very different for that I started using a wheelchair at an early age due to my disorder. I learned to deal with the issues of disabled life and this kind of life is all I have known. But I have to say that he was unwise in not wanting to live his life with the Mother of Dragons. That was just dumb, she is amazing! All joking aside, this was a great movie that gives people insight into the lives of the disabled and in no way did it advocate that assisted suicide is the answer.
P.S: If you would like to see another movie about disabled life check out The Intouchables. Read the review here: https://thewheelworld91.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/the-intouchables-movie-review/ Just a warning it is a movie with subtitles. (Inside joke if you saw Me Before You, just like Louisa you will appreciate a movie with subtitles even if you do not think you will like it.)