I recently watched the tearjerker romance Me Before You (2016) on Amazon Prime, and I was — once again — surprised to see a library scene pop up in the middle of the film. The film stars Emilia Clarke as Lou Clark, a ditzy but warm-hearted girl who loves bright colors, striped tights, and fashion with a bedazzled “F.” Sam Claflin plays Will Traynor, a recently paralyzed man that Lou helps take care of.
Here’s a trailer for Me Before You, directed by Thea Sharrock in her directorial debut:
“Me Before You Official Trailer #1 (2016) – Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin Movie HD,” uploaded by Movieclips Trailers, Standard YouTube license
The film is based on the novel by Jojo Moyes, who also wrote the screenplay. I have to note that it has become a controversial film, with criticism and protests from the disability rights movement protesting the film’s central issue of disabilities and voluntary euthanasia. (I did warn you about spoilers.) But it’s not really a spoiler when the fact that Will wants to kill himself comes up halfway through the film and provides the motivation for the remaining half of the film — and the library scene. And that it’s a plot point featured in the trailer.
So. Will is depressed and convinced he is a burden to his family and cannot reconcile the ideal of his former self with his current self. (Can you understand why this film has garnered criticism?) In an attempt to stimulate Will and get him out of his depression, Lou tries to plan fun activities for him. This idea comes out of a conversation with her sister, Treena (played by Jenna Coleman).
Treena: If this is what he really wants, then use the time he’s got left. Make it special. … A bucket list. Show him how good this time can be.
Lou: But.. what if that list could do more than that? What if it could make him change his mind?
Cue library research montage!
The director then cuts immediately to a public library. This scene occurs 47 minutes into the film.
And I am assuming this scene was filmed in an actual library, because — you may have guessed it, so say it with me now — there are CALL NUMBERS on the spine of the books. Thank goodness! (I wrote a blog post a few years ago about how you can spot the difference between a bookstores and a library onscreen, if you need a refresher.)
Note: I’m not sure where this scene was filmed, as its filming locations on IMDb.com don’t list a public library. If anyone reading this blog knows the real-life library used in this scene, please leave a comment and share!
Research is hard, y’all
I laughed so hard at the next bit of the scene. The director starts out with a shot of Lou searching online from the perspective of the audience looking over her shoulder (so that we see the back of her head and the computer screen, a website about activities and support for quadriplegics)…
… then overlays a shot of Lou’s face getting more confused as she reads the computer screen…
… and THEN finishes off with Lou’s doubly confused face(s), one looking down at a stack of books she has loaded into her arms and the other still staring at the computer screen.
Also… maybe ask a librarian for help next time. That’s why we’re here!
The reel librarian
The first time I watched this scene, I thought it would turn out to be a Class V film, a movie that may have a library scene but does not feature any reel librarians. But the second time I watched this scene, I am convinced that I spy a reel librarian — or at least the back of one leaning down to either retrieve or shelve a book. I’ve indicated the character I’m referring to in the screenshots below. The bun, cardigan, and dowdy skirt sealed the deal for me. Even though no background character from this scene is listed in the credits, I’m putting Me Before You in the Class IV category, with cameos and bit parts for reel librarians.
A real-life story
The entire library scene only lasts thirty seconds. Near the beginning of this research montage, Lou pulls out a book from the bookcase, and the title clearly reads Walking Papers.
And it’s a real book! (Y’all knew I would look that up, right?!) Its full title is Walking Papers: The Accident that Changed My Life, and the Business that Got Me Back on My Feet by Francesco Clark, published in 2010. Here’s the write-up of this book on Amazon:
Walking Papers is the incredibly inspiring story of a young man who wouldn’t give up. Francesco Clark was a twenty-four-year-old with a bright future when he went to Long Island for the weekend–but a nocturnal dive into the pool’s shallow end changed everything, forever. Paralyzed from the neck down, Francesco was told by his doctors that he would never move from his bed or even breathe without assistance. But Francesco fought back. Within days, he was breathing on his own. His father, a doctor himself, investigated every opportunity for experimental treatment, and Francesco used every resource available to speed his recovery. To avoid having his lungs painfully suctioned, he sang, loudly, for hours–and that was just the beginning.
Seven years after the accident, Francesco continues to improve and to surprise his doctors–for instance, he can now work on a computer. Walking Papers is the inspiring story of how, with individual determination and unconditional family support, Francesco Clark overcame extreme adversity and achieved an extraordinary triumph.
And come to find out, Francesco Clark was NOT happy that his autobiography was spotlighted in this film. As he stated in an interview:
“I was never asked if my book could be included in the movie, nor was I ever told that it would be included. While I understand that this movie is based on a work of fiction, my book – and my life – is not.”
If you just can’t get enough of the time-honored tradition of fast-forwarding plots with library research montages, then check out my posts for WarGames, He’s On My Mind, and Spotlight, just to name a few.
- Barnes, Henry. “Quadriplegic author ‘angry to be associated’ with Me Before You.” The Guardian, 15 June 2016.
- Me Before You. Dir. Thea Sharrock. Perf. Emilia Clark, Sam Claflin, Vanessa Kirby, Jenna Coleman. Warner Bros., 2016.
- “Me Before You Official Trailer #1 (2016) – Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin Movie HD,” uploaded by Movieclips Trailers, Standard YouTube license.
- Pritchard, Stephen. “The readers’ editor on… portraying disability.” The Guardian, 28 May 2016.