Hollywood loves the universality of romantic films. But there’s another kind of romantic angle that films from La-la Land likes a lot: the tragic love story wherein one character dies of illness. The film Me Before You is a very good example of this unique yet sad angle.
Picture this: A young and handsome professional, very active in his life, suddenly gets paralyzed from a freak vehicular accident. But what’s more tragic is this once active man plans to end his life, to the objections of his wealthy parents. So they bargain with him to give it 6 months, a chance of them prolonging his life, as they wish that the company of a pretty caregiver would change their son’s mind later on.
So enter a happy and cheerful gal, down on her luck, forced to accept the side caregiver job for money. And of course, sparks soon fly as boy meets girl. Can you guess what happens next? Well, just watch it!
Would you believe that, like this film, similar stories were mined by Hollywood from literature? Care to open up these pages and screens later on? Then read our list for recommendations of movies like Me Before You!
1.The Fault in Our Stars
Much like Me Before You – originally from the novel penned by Jojo Moyes – there have been other successful tragic-romantic films in the silver screen that were based on books. One recent example is the hit young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars. This novel was written by John Green, and the film version starred Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace, and Ansel Elgort as Gus.
The Fault in Our Stars basically carries the same basic plot pattern as Me Before You. What’s different here is that both the boy and girl are sick, and they have terminal illnesses as well. But that doesn’t hinder them from pursuing goals that appear simple to other teens their age. However, with their more complicated medical conditions, it certainly becomes a challenge to live, to be a teen, or to just be.
For one, the girl, Hazel, is afflicted by thyroid cancer. This means she has a hard time breathing sometimes, since the cancer has also spread to other parts of her body. So basically, she is limited in many ways, most especially in movement, as she is hooked up to some gadgets and machines to breathe properly.
Meanwhile, the boy, Gus, was once afflicted by bone cancer. However, when they meet each other, he is in remission. Thus, the whole narrative seems like he is supporting her spirits, and encouraging her to get better in the process.
The Fault in Our Stars is one of those movies like Me Before You because the protagonists also experience life-changing moments from their interactions. This film is indeed a heartwarming tearjerker, so go watch it.
2.A Walk to Remember
As we learned, movies with basic tragic-romantic plots like Me Before You are not exclusive to films. Literature has been narrating them for a long time. And yep, Hollywood reads them to adapt them. The same is true for one definitive film in this sub-genre: A Walk to Remember.
No tragic-romantic book-to-film list will be complete without mentioning at least one Nicholas Sparks material. And of course, this 1999 Sparks novel got adapted to the silver screen later on in 2002. The film version stars Mandy Moore as Jamie, a teenager afflicted with leukemia. Her co-star and co-couple here is Shane West, who plays Landon.
Trouble first begins for Landon when he is penalized for doing pranks with his equally popular high school friends. As part of his punishment, he is forced to join the school play. It was in the school play where he encounters unpopular girl Jamie, branded as a nerd in school.
While A Walk to Remember belongs here in the list of movies like Me Before You, it’s different in a way, because of the information revealed – or not revealed. At first, Jamie just acts like any normal teen, and her tension-filled encounters with Landon is also typical of their high school social hierarchies’ behavior. But it wasn’t revealed at first that Jamie has leukemia. Landon only discovers this fact later on, when he has finally met Jamie’s minister father.
Despite the odds – and of course the sickness – Landon soon finds that he has fallen for Jamie already. And Jamie also experiences the same. With the disease looming over their heads, though, what do you think could have happened next?
A Walk to Remember is indeed intriguing, so go check out the book and the film, too!
If you think these tragic-romantic films are products of younger/newer writers’ imaginations such as Nicholas Sparks, think again! In the 1970s, one book – simply called Love Story – carried the same storyline, and also became a film.
From a novel penned by author Erich Segal, the 1970 film Love Story featured Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal as the somewhat star-crossed lovers. As they are limited by sickness and therefore bound by time, their love tries to transcend such boundaries as they go with their feelings.
But the sickness doesn’t come in until later. Primarily, Love Story is about rich college guy Oliver and working class girl Jenny. They met while in college, fell madly in love, and wanted to wed. But Oliver was threatened with disinheritance by his tycoon father if he marries the “wrong girl.”
Oliver and Jenny still persist. Despite his father’s objections, Oliver still marries Jenny as they both try to fund his law school studies. They eventually pull off of their earlier situations, and decide to have a family eventually.
Trouble begins when Jenny can’t seem to conceive a child. Oliver and her doctor talk about it, and discover that she has cancer. At first, Oliver hides this fact from her, trying to make her life more meaningful. But she later discovers it herself, so of course many things change.
So, what do you think happens next? Take the classic cinematic line from this film and go figure it out: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Watch it!
4.Silver Linings Playbook
It’s not only teens who are targeted by authors of tragic-romantic dramedy novels. Of course, there are also many adult-themed novels focusing on this theme. One of them is Silver Linings Playbook.
While it’s not exactly a terminal disease-themed book, the characters in this novel by Matthew Quick are afflicted by mental health problems that hinder them from some regular daily routines. In particular, it’s the guy in the story who has the more difficult condition than the girl, as shown in the film.
The guy here is Pat, a man who got separated from his wife Nikki, as he discovered that she was cheating on him. This led to an onset of violent behavior towards the wife’s lover. He was later committed to a mental health facility where he spent 8 months of treatment. He is officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Pat tries to integrate with his family’s life once again when he was released from the facility. He then meets a woman named Tiffany, the recently divorced friend of his friends. Tiffany also suffers from some sort of depression because of what happened to her. She uses dance as a therapy to cope with it.
Soon, Pat and Tiffany’s paths cross several times, but Pat reveals that he’s on a mission to win back his estranged wife. But he also wants to prove to his wife that he is a changed man. Tiffany proposes an arrangement for them, saying she will help him win the wife back if he becomes his dance partner for an upcoming competition.
It’s interesting to see where this story would go, based on how the characters are behaving and the circumstances surrounding their individual and intersected lives. Jennifer Lawrence as Maggie and Bradley Cooper as Pat indeed have good chemistry here. Go watch the film and see how they pull this one off!
If you think these tragic-romantic kind of books-to-movies only attract the younger stars of not-yet-so-stellar caliber, think again! Academy Award winner Julia Roberts, once termed the darling of Hollywood, also had her own tragic-romantic film to add to this list. And that film is aptly called Dying Young.
Adapted from the novel by Marti Leimbach, the film tells of the story of Victor, a young man who is suffering from cancer. His wealthy father puts an ad out to hire a nurse for Victor, who will mainly help him as he undergoes chemotherapy. Enter Julia Roberts who plays Hillary, a spirited young woman who’s not really a nurse but applies for the job because of the money.
Hmm, doesn’t that sound too familiar? No wonder this film truly belongs here in our list of movies like Me Before You, as they have too many parallelisms! But the sick guy here is not completely such a mean guy. In fact, he’s a kind-hearted soul, and Hilary falls easily for him. This happens during the course of his chemotherapy sessions.
But once the chemo is done, Hilary doesn’t feel needed anymore. But she already developed feelings for Victor by this time. Unknown to her, he also had feelings for her as well. And they discover these feelings for each other when they went for a vacation.
In the coast where they were vacationing, however, Victor pretends that he is already okay and done with all his chemo. But secretly, he is in pain. And he also takes some meds for it. Hilary accidentally discovers this, and confronts him. But his excuse was that he just wants to experience a happy life even for a while, if possible with her.
Such a tragic romantic story, but this one’s worth watching, if only to see Julia pull this off. So go watch it!
6.Love and Other Drugs
If there is one film that’s slightly different in this list, perhaps this is it. Love and Other Drugs also features a couple, sure, and one of them is later revealed to have a terminal illness. But this time, the story is based on a nonfiction book rather than a fiction novel. The book is called Hard Sell: The Evolution of A Viagra Salesman written by Jamie Reidy.
Might be an unusual book to base a tragic-romantic film from, right? Well, not really. Stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the salesman Jamie and Anne Hathaway as Maggie, the one with the illness, pull this off quite well. It’s their chemistry here that works, so to speak.
Maggie suffers from an early type of Parkinson’s Disease, that’s why she has a more carefree take on life and hooking up with guys. She accidentally meets Jamie inside her doctor’s office one time, because Jamie pretended to be an intern there instead of a pharmaceutical sales rep. Their initial meeting is kinda bonkers, in a way, but they eventually “warm up” to each other by hooking up.
Before meeting Maggie, Jamie is a sex-crazed guy who could charm and bed any girl he wants – and he does. At first, his hook-up with Maggie seems just like one of his usual escapades. But he later discovers that he’s feeling something else for her.
Now what about the Viagra, you might say? As a pharma sales rep, Jamie seems to have little luck in selling to many doctors. And during one of their sexcapades, he also fails to perform. Maggie then mentioned that maybe he could look into that special drug that his company is actually testing at the moment, to answer his “rising” problem.
So yes, this is where the Viagra kicks in. But this is also where Maggie’s own life-changing slow panic creeps in. They both try to deal with their feelings for each other, with her looming disease being considered in the background.
This film is quite interesting and different in its approach of this tragic-comic romantic storyline. So go see what happens next!