I’m not a movie critic. Nor is this a review per say. But recently my wife and I saw the movie, “Me Before You,” and upon exiting the theatre I knew at once I’d be writing this. Warning: if you are not typically on the Internet or social media and therefore know nothing about this film, this will spoil the ending for you.
1) Don’t be afraid to engage the culture with your kids
This movie at the very least supports one’s choice for euthanasia (the practice of ending a life in order to relieve pain or suffering). The male lead, Sam, suffers an accident early in the movie and the plot ends with him committing assisted suicide. Although the film offers several perspectives on the issue through the voices of different characters, its conclusion is that his choice is what matters most, and therefore he’s justified in seeking death.
Many well meaning believers have responded through social media, and elsewhere to offer their boycott perspective on the film. The main argument is that by going to see the film you are innately allowing that type of philosophy into your family, as well as supporting it. While I support parents who want to guard what comes into their home, you misunderstand our culture if you think that is the only place your children will be confronted with a secular viewpoint. Moreover, you miss a fantastic opportunity to control the conversation with your kids by discussing it as a family! As believers we should be engaging the culture with our children, teaching them how to see it through the lens of the gospel. (And of course I’m not advocating allowance of explicit material for the sake of discussion, but simply implying that secular worldviews are going to bombard our kids, so I’d rather us do it with them). Jesus didn’t walk around with blinders. Instead he looked directly into the eyes of prostitutes and sinners and breathed life into their brokenness.
2) Filter, don’t Flush
When engaging our culture, especially media of some kind, it can be easy to simply flush everything we hear down the drain, without examining what is good there, and filtering it out. This film has plenty of thematic elements that are worthwhile and promotable. Clark, the main female character is a wonderful character. On top of being loving and kind herself, the film portrays a very healthy family situation which often is missing from entertainment. They are respectful of their parents, they seek wisdom from them, and collectively the family celebrates one another while supporting each other’s goals. It was entirely more enriching than a few of the families portrayed on Disney channel that your kids probably do watch. This was refreshing, and we should be able to sift through that which is not God honoring to say, “there is something here which reflects the image of God on His creation”. A classic example of this would be writing of Harry Potter because it contained magic, while promoting, “The Chronicles of Narnia” even though it contains the same. We far too quickly receive that which is deemed “Christian” while refusing altogether that which is titled “non-Christian”. Instead, we should see that this is our Father’s world, and everything in it, is His.
3) The message of the movie – a filtered viewpoint
The title says it all. Me before you. At the end of the film Sam is assisted in death by a doctor. Just before the end, Clark, the female lead, asks if she should go get his family. He says, “Yes,” but also asks if she would stay. He asks this knowing she did not truly want to come in the first place. And her response? “Of course I’ll stay.” This is ironic considering the crucial turning point earlier in the movie. The two main characters, slowly falling in love, take a trip together. On said trip, he reveals to Clark his plan. She begs for him not to, and there is one crucial line where she in a deep emotional state, cries, “Please stay, stay for me”. His response. “I can’t”.
This is anti-manly, and anti-gospel. Ephesians 5 speaks (in the context of marriage) a man laying down his life for his bride. Jesus says in the gospels, “No man has greater love than this; that he lay his life down for his friends”. Jesus is both the perfect groom and perfect friend. He gave His life, but not because He “couldn’t do it anymore” but because we couldn’t. We couldn’t pay for our sin, so He did. We couldn’t bare the burden of condemnation, so He did. We couldn’t create life within ourselves, so He was raised, so we might hope for life. Even though Sam,in the movie, says he loves her, we have to define love through the lens of Christ. And Jesus’ love is altogether self-less. He gives up Himself for others.
What a great lesson to teach our kids. This movie may offer a context in which to teach them that truth. Especially for our young men. Men don’t cower in their own pain, or ask others to suffer so they can have peace. They trust God’s plan for their life, and live as Jesus did: sacrificially. Jesus was a real man. Gentle, kind, and loving. And when taunted by those at the foot of the cross to come down, to give up, to give into selfishness, and just give in, He didn’t. He did what Sam could not do. He stayed. Praise God, He stayed.