I just watched Me Before You, which in one sentence was about a young waitress who tries to convince a handsome wealthy paraplegic to not end his life. Did I like the movie? Well, it’s definitely a movie that reaches into the beyond good or bad category, where it’s complex and emotional.
I think I disagree with it. I’m getting a bit worried that it might have just been pro assisted suicide propaganda due to the way the script was read. And I don’t see what the plot was. But let’s see.
I disagree with it because the main character commits suicide because he decides that his life as a paraplegic is not worth living, compared to what his life was before. Before, he had a really thorough life: he got to travel everywhere, had a girlfriend, not in an arrogant sense, but rather in a honest decent guy sense.
Then he had his motorcycle crash, and he decided that his paraplegic life wasn’t worth living anymore, because he has no autonomy and he can’t do anything he wants to anymore.
So what do I disagree with then? Let me preface this by saying that I’m being a bit presumptuous here: I’ve never been in a situation like his, so I don’t know whether I’d still think the same thing, but I can at least argue with the philosophical arguments below. As I was saying.
I disagree with his choice to commit suicide. I think Will’s (the main character) problem was that he identified too much of himself as able bodied, instead of the thing which would grow into the future. He had a big ego, definitely at the beginning.
You can tell when someone’s identifying too much with who they are rather than who they could be when they’re arrogant, or when they can’t take a joke. And at the beginning of the movie, Will definitely wouldn’t take a joke about his condition.
One problem with having a big ego is that you don’t deserve it in a sense: the privilege that you have isn’t something you’ve earned; you’ve just won the lottery, that’s all. And to claim it as yours is to mistakenly think that something you were gifted was something you were owed.
I don’t think it’s easy to recover from this state of mind. Especially Will, because he seems to be someone who merged his privileges with the hero within him, and so now he’s finding it very difficult to identify with something new.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl says that the reason people kept on going in the concentration camps was because each of them articulated what the hole in the universe that only they could fill was. And I think that Will perhaps simply didn’t have the time to adjust to his new body, and thus find that the hole in the universe still existed, but only in a different shape.
I also disagree with it because I don’t think that living life is all about surfing and going to different places and all of that; that’s life of course, but that’s not all that there is to life. And I don’t like the idea that if you loose all of that that therefore your life is no longer worth living. I think that that’s wrong. Can’t say why yet.
It’s also a movie where I don’t see what the plot was: at the beginning, Will was going to kill himself. At the end, he continues to go on to kill himself. And with Louisa, at the beginning she’s cheery and happy. At the end, she’s cheery and happy in Paris. What’s the difference?
This is why I don’t get the film. Will obviously has the ability to make the lives of those around him better: Louisa’s dad’s, Louisa’s, his mom’s, etc, etc. So was the film saying that the only way you can make people happy if you’re a shell of a person is by committing suicide?
There was an over-emphasis on freedom too. Louisa is free now, to pursue her life. But what about love? Urgh. I’ll have to think about this movie some more.