Emilia Clarke finds love in romantic drama ‘Me Before You’

British actress Emilia Clarke takes a 180-degree turn from her famous Mother of Dragons character, Daenerys, in “Game of Thrones” to portray the wide-eyed, endearing Louisa, in New Line Cinema’s heart-tugging romance, “Me Before You.”

“What drew me to this movie were the words of Jojo Moyes, the book first and then the script,” explains Clarke. “I was hooked on page one and so excited to play a character with such charm and sincerity, who is so authentically and brilliantly British, and with such a lovely arc in her story.”

With no clear direction in her life, quirky and creative Lou works hard as a waitress in a small café in order to help her family make ends meet. “Louisa is a happy-go-lucky, very content girl,” observes Clarke of her character. “When we first meet her, she is working at The Buttered Bun Café, serving tea and scones. She’s very good at it, she loves the clientele, and we see she’s a sweet kind of caring girl who just wants to do well.”

But times are tough and Lou is let go. Knowing her income is as crucial as her skill set is minimal, she tells her local job placement agent that she’ll happily try anything. Her naturally cheery outlook is put to the test, however, when she faces her newest career challenge as caregiver and companion to Will Traynor. A once robust young man, he became wholly dependent on others due to an accident two years prior, and his whole world changed dramatically in the blink of an eye.

Director Thea Sharrock says, “Lou lives with her parents, her sister, her grandpa and her nephew in a very small house in a very small town. But her mum doesn’t have a job, Granddad doesn’t have a job, and Dad now doesn’t have a job, so her small income is a very big deal. Yet her outlook remains a sunny one.”

To find an actress who could play positive under pressure, the filmmakers cast a wide net. “We saw hundreds of girls, and I had Skyped with Emilia about the role, but I can honestly say that when she walked in to audition and did her first scene, it was literally like Lou was in the room,” Sharrock recalls. “There was no question. Her energy was exactly right; like Lou, she was just a breath of fresh air.”

Clarke had an easy rapport with the first-time feature director. “Thea is just the greatest, I love her. You’d never, ever, know that this was her first film,” she declares. “It’s a testimony to her intelligence, her integrity and her work ethic that working on this project, with its very tricky subject matter, felt almost effortless. She was so giving and always had a smile and a laugh to put us at ease, and that trickled down to everyone. I never felt like I was working.”

Based on the critically acclaimed, bestselling novel by Jojo Moyes, New Line Cinema’s and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ “Me Before You” stars Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) and Sam Claflin (“The Hunger Games” movies), under the direction of renowned theatre director Thea Sharrock, making her feature film directorial debut.
Oftentimes you find love where you least expect it. Sometimes it takes you where you never expected to go…

When Louisa Clark—Lou, as she’s known—unexpectedly loses her waitressing job she must scramble to replace the income that her tight-knit family depends upon. Desperation drives her to take a job as a caregiver to Will Traynor, a man who used to be a wealthy banker with an adventurous soul, living life to the very fullest, but for whom those days are in the past. After a tragic accident, Will lost the desire to live and now keeps everyone at a distance with his caustic, overbearing attitude. But unlike his family, Lou refuses to tiptoe around him or cater to his moods. In fact, her sparkling personality and easy nature are hard for even Will to ignore, and soon enough each becomes exactly what the other needs.

Set for release across the Philippines on June 15, 2016, “Me Before You” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.

The film’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will be available to download/stream via digital stores starting June 3. Get the CD for only Php 459.00 at Astroplus/Astrovision stores starting June 10.


MOVIE REVIEW: A Hologram for the King (2016)

“A Hologram for the King” Review
Written and Directed by Tom Tykwer
Based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Dave Eggers.

Uniting Hanks and Tykwer once again four years after Cloud AtlasA Hologram for the King comes forth as another attempt at interpreting into film a book brimming with existentialism. The film lack depth and gravitas, but Hanks’ acting and narration (not to mention his natural charm) throughout the film makes up for it. And that, most definitely, is a good thing.

A Hologram for the King takes us into the life of Alan Clay (Tom Hanks), an ageing businessman trying to salvage his career and reputation by trying to sell an advanced holographic teleconferencing technology to the king of Saudi. He spends his days haunted by his past failures as an executive and board member of the now defunct Schwinn Bicycle Company, and unceasingly plagued by the shadow of a divorce and a daughter he can’t even put through college.

Trouble ensues when he arrives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and finds failure and utter disappointment from the very beginning. The Saudi monarch he was supposed to present to doesn’t seem to have any plans of manifesting, and the people he employs doesn’t seem to empathize with his plight either.

With nothing but an outdoor tent that doesn’t have air conditioning (while being in the middle of the desert), no Wi-Fi (Que horror!), and no readily available food, he decides to take a risk and seek out the decision makers that can make him get his plans into fruition.

Greeting him (after escaping into the elevator while the receptionist is away) at King’s Metropolis of Economy and Trade is Hanne (Sidse Babett Knudsen), a Danish associate working in payroll. After giving him a bottle of smuggled liquor (disguised as olive oil) and seducing him into making a mistake, Alan realizes an intense lack of libido and drive he never expected to have.

With middle age and sudden solitude troubling him, Alan finds himself blaming all his lack of energy to a large growth on his back, precariously located on top of his spine.

Alan finds a semblance of friendship in  his driver Yousef (Alexander Black), a young Arab man obsessed with American 80’s music. Worrying about the bump on his back, Yousef persuades him to have it looked at.

He finds himself treated by Zahra (Sarita Choudhury), a female Saudi doctor. For reasons unknown, the two find themselves making an immediate connection, and as hard as they may try, it can not be ignored and set aside.

Tom Tykwer’s attempt to channel the book’s depiction of a lost and exhausted soul leaves audiences wanting. Alan’s narration of his past, and his musings of current events and possible prospects bring a sort of lift to the otherwise languid flow of the story. It only picked up towards the end, but still left a few things quite uncertain.

Newcomer Alexander Black delivers a few sniggers with his character Yousef’s sharp jibes and blatant hypocrisy. As per usual, it’s quite interesting how he (a Caucasian) was cast as a young Saudi man. Makeup might make him look racially and ethnically ambiguous enough to pass as a Saudi man, but this might still bring up concerns about Hollywood whitewashing everything. And quite frankly, it is a serious issue.

Sarita Choudhury, on the other hand, seems a more fitting casting choice to her character compared to Black. Even with her English-Indian heritage, it’s definitely better to see an Asian play an Asian on screen. But then again, that’s still an opinion challenged up to this day.

A Hologram for the King is distributed by OctoArts Films International, and now showing in cinemas.