Me Before You draws flak over suicidal disabled character
Movie draws flak for portrayal of suicidal paralysed character
It was meant to be a love story between a disabled man and his caregiver.
But the British-American romantic film Me Before You has drawn criticism in the US and UK from disability rights groups about its portrayal of disabled people and the perceived message that disabled people are better off dead.
In the movie, banker Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) is paralysed from the neck down after an accident.
He plans to get himself euthanised in Switzerland.
His love interest and caregiver Louisa (Emilia Clarke) tries to dissuade him.
The movie is based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name by Jojo Moyes, who also adapted the screenplay.
Me Before You has riled members of the physically disabled community here.
Ms Azlin Amran, 31, who became a paraplegic after suffering a spinal cord injury from a fall three years ago, agreed that the movie sends the wrong message.
She told The New Paper: "I definitely can understand the basic emotions going through Will Traynor's mind. Whatever he feels, I can identify with it.
"And it's normal to go through a grief process, but I think what the movie didn't include is that as much as humans breathe and experience loss, they also experience healing, hope and faith.
"These are the things that keep people going.
"Disability is being addressed in a very superficial way."
Miss Gemma Foo, 20, who has cerebral palsy and is one of Singapore's para-equestrians,agreed, saying: "I empathise with Will's character.
"However, I feel that no matter what hardships we go through, no matter how difficult the change may be, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
"And finding the strength to move through the hardships will enable you to become a stronger person."
Ms Azlin is engaged to a 30-year-old designer and will be getting married in August.
Her fiance, who declined to be named, met Ms Azlin in 2014, a year after her fall.
He said: "I was concerned about her. I told her (Azlin) to do something meaningful with her life such as getting a job and taking up a sport."
With his encouragement, Ms Azlin got a job as an employment support specialist last year and started playing badminton again.
The couple watched the movie last Friday and the fiance said he understood the backlash.
"The film failed to address the human spirit. It didn't show the recovery aspect of the character and how he tried to bounce back in life after the accident," he said.
"What's worse is that the character in the film is rich," he added.
"I know that no amount of money can help someone feel better about themselves, but the fact that he has a great support system and the film only portrays the pain and misery he goes through - it's just wrong."
Executive director of the Disabled People's Association Singapore, Dr Marissa Medjeral-Mills, felt that casting was an issue.
"I saw the trailer for Me Before You and was disappointed that big budget film-makers rarely cast actors with disabilities to play characters with disabilities," said Dr Medjeral-Mills.
"Given that the Government, voluntary welfare organisations and advocates with disabilities have been trying to get the public to have a more positive view of the experience of having a disability, this film could be detrimental to that."
... I think what the movie didn't include is that as much as humans breathe and experience loss, they also experience healing, hope and faith.
- Ms Azlin Amran