Will Traynor: I don't do anything, Miss Clark. I sit and just about exist.
Louisa "Lou" Clark, a 26-year-old living with and supporting her large working class family, is suddenly fired from her job at a cafe. With few qualifications, she looks for employment at a Job Centre. There, she learns of Camilla Traynor, who is looking for a caretaker for her son, Will, who was paralyzed from the chest down in a traffic accident two years prior. Camilla hires Louisa despite having almost no experience in care-giving, in the hopes that she will lift his spirits.
Their relationship starts off rocky as Will is understandably depressed and bitter over his accident, but over time, the two begin to bond and become closer, with Louisa taking him on outings and dates, and Will becomes enchanted with her bubbly, unwavering attitude and is intrigued with her "unique" sense of fashion.
Lou, however, is unaware of the deal made between Will and his parents regarding his condition...
The film adaptation of Me Before You provides examples of the following tropes:
- Artistic License Biology: Being a quadriplegic, there is no way that Will should have the mobility needed to slash his wrists in a suicide attempt even with limited use of his forefinger and thumb. Becomes more a case of All There in the Manual, as the book explains how Will found a protruding nail and used his chair to ram his wrist repeatedly against it.
- On Will's deathbed, what does he say? Anguished Declaration of Love? Nope, he gives Lou an Ironic Echo of her 'Mollolonkey Song'. It's still a very sad scene, but Lou can't help but laugh at it.
- The ending uses this too. While Lou is reading the posthumous letter from Will about living her life to the full, she stands up...and is revealed to be wearing the bumblebee tights.
- Bittersweet Ending: Will goes through with his plan to commit suicide but Louisa is a changed woman from her experience and relationship with him, and is able to leave and start her own life with an amount of money that Will left her, knowing how much she desired to be independent.
- Cerebus Call-Back: Played with. Lou comically irritates Will by singing the 'Mollonlonkey Song' while he's semi-conscious. He sings it to her as he's on his death bed, but it's played for both comedy and drama.
- Country Mouse: Deconstructed. Lou lives in a quaint country town and has never lived outside it, despite being in her mid-20s. As a result, she has very little prospects, and is quite naive about lots of things. It's pointed out especially by Will that she needs to see the world and step outside of her comfort zone.
- The Cutie: Louisa. She's also The Ditz.Louisa: Every time I speak, he looks at me like I'm stupid!
Katrina: To be fair, you are pretty stupid.
Louisa: Yeah, but he doesn't know that yet!
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Will towards Lou, starting with having her watch one of his favourite films with him.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Will getting a haircut coincides with him defrosting towards Lou.
- Lou is trying on a dress for the concert that's "too booby" and she bends over to show her sister (and by extension, the audience) what she means. Although she wears a scarf over the actual dress, Will asks her to remove it - and we see that this one has quite a flattering neckline too.
- Will also gets a Shirtless Scene at the very beginning of the film, and we see numerous photos and videos from before his accident where he's wearing swimsuits.
- First-Name Basis: Will only addresses Lou by her last name, until he informs her that he still wants to go to Switzerland to end his life. Furious and heartbroken, she runs away in tears, and Will calls her "Louisa" in an attempt to get her to come back.
- Foreshadowing: Will's ex mentions that he relentlessly pushed her away despite her efforts to be there for him, presumably not wanting her to eventually pity and resent him. This is exactly what he does to Lou towards the end of the movie.
- Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind: Lou's kooky outfits clash with her naiveté.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Lou is hired by Will's parents in order to give him a reason not commit suicide. As the I Want My Beloved to Be Happy entry below implies, she actually gave him MORE reasons to do it.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Subverted. Although Patrick is the stereotypical aloof boyfriend who doesn't treat Lou that well, she's still framed as being in the wrong for her increasingly romantic dates with Will. The notion of emotional cheating is not ignored, and Lou doesn't do anything physical until after she and Patrick have broken up.
- Will's ex-girlfriend and best friend hooking up is treated as bad, though she explicitly states that he rebuffed all her efforts to be there for him.
- Hard Truth Aesop: If someone really doesn't want to keep on living, and it's physically painful for them, then sometimes you have to let them make their own decisions - even if it does affect you very badly.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Will makes two major decisions that are intended to set Louisa free to live her own life. First he arranges for Louisa's father to be employed as Head of Maintenance at the castle, meaning the family no longer relies on Louisa as the breadwinner. Then he sets up the bank account that will fund her spreading her wings, and we see the meeting with the lawyer who he tasks with arranging it.
- Intimate Haircut: Lou gives Will a shave that marks the first major sign of romantic tension between them.
- Kick the Dog: When Lou's mother comments that Katrina is the clever one of the family, Bernard mutters, "Not clever enough to stop her getting up the duff, though." It's treated as another awkward moment of the evening, but it seemed rather uncalled for.
- Lady in Red: Lou wears a sexy red dress to the concert with Will, and it marks a major step forward in their relationship.
- Love at First Sight: While this is hardly his reaction, Will's posthumous letter to Lou tells her she was "imprinted on his heart" the minute she walked in.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Played with. At first it seems like Louisa is the Manic Pixie who has come to change Will's life, and he does enjoy his time with her and falls in love with her... But ultimately Louisa is the one who changes because she met him. Additionally, the MPDG is rarely The Protagonist, which Lou unquestionably is.
- Must Make Amends: Will arranges for a job as Head of Maintenance a the castle for Lou's dad, fueled by his revelation in My God, What Have I Done? below.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When Bernard asks Will if he knew the person that asset-stripped the firm that owned the local factory before shutting it down, devastating the local economy, Will is forced to admit to a room full of people affected that in fact, he trained the person in question. In tandem with his actions in the I Want My Beloved to Be Happy entry above, partially explains his Must Make Amends leap of faith in Lou's dad later in the film.
- Precision F-Strike: For Lou's standards anyway. When a woman at the horse racing refuses to let them eat in the relaxed dining area (because they don't have the right badge), Lou tells her that she can "shove your Premier Badge up your relaxed dining area."
- Much earlier on, when she gets sick of Will treating her like garbage:Lou: Look, you don't have to be an arse!
- Much earlier on, when she gets sick of Will treating her like garbage:
- Rape as Backstory: In the novel, it's implied that Louisa was sexually assaulted in a hedge maze during a party, which is why she doesn't leave her home and dresses in her unusual way. In the film, this is cut entirely, making Lou's fashion style and choice to remain at home attributable to her personality and not a traumatic event.
- Screw Politeness Im Disabled: Will is a massive Deadpan Snarker, and that's on his better days.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Lou is known for her odd mishmash of clownish outfits, so she definitely gives Will quite a turn when she shows up for the concert date in a sexy red dress.
- Significant Wardrobe Shift: As Lou's relationship with Will progresses, starting with the red dress scene, her weird and clownish outfits start to soften and we see her wearing more glamorous and sensible clothes. This culminates in the final scene where she's smartly dressed but still has the bumblebee tights on.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Camilla Traynor, in classic British Stiff Upper Lip form. It becomes apparent during the overheard conversation that tells about Will's membership at Dignitas and when we see her desk faces a collage of press cuttings and photos of Will, that she's closer to Mama Bear in outlook. Her breakdown at Louisa's revelation that the trip to the Caribbean failed to change Will's mind about suicide shows just how thin the Ice Queen front really is, and it is devastating to see.