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'Me Before You' film ending raises hackles of disability advocates - even though it's true to the book

Posted June 8

Disability advocate groups are angry over the ending of new summer movie release "Me Before You," an adaptation of the Jojo Moyes novel of the same name, for its supposed "gross misrepresentation of the vast majority of disabled people."

Warning: Spoilers for 'Me Before You' book and movie abound.

In both Moyes' book, which has been on shelves since 2012, and the new film, one of the central characters, a quadriplegic man named Will, chooses to end his life even though he's fallen in love with the main character, Louisa.

Despite the fact that the book was published years ago with its controversial ending intact (the first line of the New York Times review of the book describes the book as being at the crossroads of a "sappy love story" and the right-to-die debate), disability advocacy groups have protested the film's premieres because of the ending and portrayal of disabled people.

“The message of the film is that disability is tragedy and disabled people are better off dead,” anti-assisted suicide and disability activist Ellen Clifford told BuzzFeed News. “It comes from a dominant narrative carried by society and the mainstream media that says it is a terrible thing to be disabled.”

Despite initial praise for the movie's trailer, many critics are also panning the film as stereotypical "inspiration porn" — where disabled or chronically ill people are sacrificed as pure plot device.

"In far too many cases, non-disabled writers and filmmakers seem to have no qualms about reducing disabled characters to victims or sources of inspiration (referred to as “inspiration porn”)," Emily Ladau wrote in Salon. "The movie’s tagline is: 'Live Boldly. Live Well. Just Live.' Yet, Will does quite the opposite. The entire premise rests on the belief that life with a disability is not worth living."

The film, starring Emilia Clark and Sam Clarifin, is rated PG-13.

Email: chjohnson@deseretnews.com

Twitter: ChandraMJohnson

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