Australian Council on Children and the Media

Me before you

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Not recommended under 14 due to themes, sexual references and coarse langage

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Me before you
  • a review of Me before you completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 June 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 14 Not recommended under 14 due to themes, sexual references and coarse language.
Children 14 and over OK for this group, although parents may wish to discuss what the film has to say about disability and euthanasia.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Me before you
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, sexual references and coarse language
Length 109 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Me before you is romantic film, based on a novel, about an unfolding relationship between two unlikely companions. Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), once a high-powered financier who was rising quickly in his career, has been left paralysed from the neck-down after being involved in a motorcycle collision. Will requires a carer and decides to take a chance on a young and optimistic former waitress named Louisa (Emilia Clarke) despite her lack of experience.  

While Will initially treats Louisa quite rudely, the two soon grow closer and develop intimate feelings for one another. After some time, Louisa discovers that Will intends to travel to Switzerland to be euthanised as a result of his disability and continuous pain. Heartbroken by Will's decision, Louisa sets out to change his mind and attempts to convince him that life is indeed worth living.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Living with a disability; suicide; euthanasia; love and relationships

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is limited violence in the film, including:

  • Will is hit by a motorcycle – however, this is only heard and not visibly shown.
  • A character appears to have attempted suicide at some time - they have scars on their wrist that indicates this.
  • There is some verbal argument between characters.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Will is paralysed, and frequently experiences pain as a result of his condition.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

The film presents the issue of euthanasia, and the decision of a disabled person to end his life.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the themes of disability, suicide and euthanasia.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger viewers in this age group may also be disturbed by the themes of disability, suicide and euthanasia.

Product placement

There is some product placement within the film, including:

  • Apple products
  • Subaru vehicles
  • Adidas

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • There is discussion of a woman’s fitted dress being ‘too booby’ and sexually revealing.
  • Several characters have a discussion about how a quadriplegic might engage in sexual activity.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A couple are shown in bed together, kissing. Both characters are naked, but only the sides of their bodies are shown.
  • There are many other brief kisses shown.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Social drinking
  • Use of prescription medication

Coarse language

There is coarse language in the film, including:

  • ‘shit’; ‘bullshit’; ‘ass/asshole’; ‘bitch’; ‘piss off’; ‘Jesus’; ‘swear to God’

In a nutshell

Me before you is a sad film that touches on some serious themes, which make it more suited to older teens and adults. There are also some sexual references and coarse language. It is therefore not recommended for viewers under 14 and there is plenty to discuss with older teens.

With the two lead characters presenting opposing viewpoints in regard to the worthwhile nature of living life with a disability, the movie aims to highlight the complex issue of euthanasia. Some viewers may be concerned that the film depicts disability in a negative light, but Louisa’s struggle to show Will that his life is worth living illustrates the human capacity for optimism and hope within otherwise tragic situations. The film also highlights the importance of close relationships and the significance of having compassionate and supportive people around during difficult times.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • The importance of supporting people in making their own decisions, even if you believe them to be wrong.
  • Making the most of every day, and valuing the time you have with loved ones and friends.
  • Having compassion for people, and always attempting to look past initial impressions and stereotypes. 

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