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ME BEFORE YOU: 3 STARS. “have their hearts in the right place.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.33.11 AMIn “Me Before You,” a new three-hankie weepie based on the bestselling novel by Jo Jo Moyes, Emilia Clarke leaves behind her “Game of Thrones” persona as Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen—a.k.a. First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons and The Unburnt—to play Louisa Clark, an unambitious former Buttered Bun waitress who takes a job that changes her life forever.

Louisa is a wide-eyed 26-year-old with no great plan for her life. After six years of serving tea and scones to the elderly clients of The Buttered Bun Café she loses her job when the place shuts down. Jobs are scarce in the village—“There are no jobs. I should know,” says her under employed father (Brendan Coyle).—and her family desperately needs the money she brings in.

Prepared to take any job she visits the local employment center where they have just the thing for her. “There’s nothing about having skills so it’s perfect for you,” says the staffer as he tells her about the position of care assistant and companion to Will Traynor (“The Hunger Games’s” Sam Claflin), a recently paralyzed man so wealthy he lives in the local castle.

For most of his life Will was Louisa’s opposite, a robust go-getter who lived life to the fullest. Now, confined to a wheelchair with a spinal chord injury, he feels so lost he strikes a deadly deal with his parents. He will give them six months to help him find happiness, and if that doesn’t happen he’s off to Dignitas in Switzerland to die with dignity and put an end to his pain and constant exhaustion. That’s where Louisa comes in. “It would be nice if he thought of you as a friend,” explains his mother (Janet McTeer), “and not a paid professional.” Her primary purpose is to convince him that life can be just as rewarding as it was before the accident. Of course, before you can say Nicholas Sparks three times really fast, they fall for one another, but is love be enough to keep Will alive?

“Me Before You” is a fairly standard tearjerker with a lineage that can be traced back to ”Love Story” and beyond. The thing that elevates it above the usual sob story is the effervescent Clarke in the lead role. Her relentlessly upbeat charm—she has a smile so broad director Thea Sharrock almost needs a wide-angle lens to capture it—coupled with the character’s complete comfort in her quirky skin shows a much lighter side of Clarke than is ever evident on “Game of Thrones.” She proves she doesn’t need to command dragons to hand in a commanding performance.

Clarke has good chemistry with Claflin. He’s solemn enough to pull off a line like, “I sit and just about exist,” and gushy enough to breathe life into stilted dialogue like, “I just…want to be a man who has been to a concert with a girl in a red dress. Just for a few minutes more.”

Good casting makes “Me Before You” an engaging enough romance that subtly deals with larger issues like class and assisted suicide. Unfortunately by the time Ed Sheeran warbles, “Loving can hurt… It is the only thing that makes us feel alive,” in the long, drawn out final section, the movie gets a little too on the money. The “you only get one life and it is your duty to live it as fully as possible” message isn’t quite as original as the movie thinks it is, but certainly, writer Moyes and Company have their hearts in the right place.

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