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'Then Came You': Not The Heart-Warming Movie About a Girl with Cancer

Asa Butterfield and Maisie Williams delivery a gritty, but hilarious performance about teenage life with cancer in 'Then Came You.'

If you’re looking for a heart-warming film about living your best life today, Then Came You is not the film for you.

It's YA-novel-turned-blockbuster-movie counterparts such as The Fault in Our Stars, Me Earl and The Dying Girl, and A Walk to Remember are sure to give you the warm fuzzies. Even check out Fox’s 2014 comedy-drama series Red Band Society for a touching story about friendship, acceptance, and identity.

Then Came You is a film I’ve had my eyes on for a couple of months, but was unable to watch in theatres, due to the chaos of my senior year in college. Now graduated, I have more than enough time on my hands to watch Netflix without the stress of turning in papers or preparing presentations. (Though, I do miss the adrenaline rush the procrastination used to give me.)

The film stars British boy-next-door Asa Butterfield (Sexual Education, The Space Between Us, Hugo) and unapologetic Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones, Doctor Who). Then Came You follows the typical cancer-ific pursuit of a character with cancer striving to do everything in the time they have left before they die. Yes, there’s a list. Yes, she dies. *Spoiler, sorry.* But what separates this film from others is that the main character Skye (Williams) actually has cancer, while her reserved partner-in-crime Calvin (Butterfield) is a hypochondriac. He’s completely healthy. Yet, he’s so tightly wound in his routine doctor visits and pulse checks that he convinces himself and his love interest Izzy, played by Nina Dobrev (Vampire Diaries), that he’s terminally ill.

While it’s unsaid in the film, it is clear that Calvin is so caught up in the fear of dying that he forgets how to live. Skye is the opposite of him, aware of the inevitable and ready to take on the world while she can. The pair rob a store, crash a house party, “support the arts”, start a business, and soon their time together becomes a kaleidoscope of conquered fears and adventure.

Another turn in the film we haven’t seen in previous cancer chronicles is that Skye loses her virginity to another boy. In both The Fault in Our Stars  (Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace) and Now is Good (Dakota Fanning as Tessa) the concept of virginity is sacred to the female main characters. The males in the films are very soft and gentle when approaching sex. It’s also portrayed as this ethereal experience doused in nervous giggles and dream-like, blurry camera focusing.

*Trigger Warning* Yet, Then Came You is not as PG with its sex scene. Calvin spends his night on a date with Izzy, eating cheese on a plane, while Skye lies on the floor of a swim center, waiting for it all to be over. It’s a disturbing scene that’s becoming too familiar to hundreds of women. I can see why the scene was included (for truth and realism, possibly), but I don’t believe it enhanced Skye’s story in any way.

Nonetheless, Then Came You tells the story about the art of not really caring what anyone says, along as you live your life. It also touches on how mental health can often become all-consuming, healing isn’t linear, and how sometimes we just need a friend in order to help ourselves heal. While it’s not all rainbows, sunshine, and the ending leaves the viewer with closure, it’s a solid film. Then Came You is now on my list of movies I’ll always return to. I think it’s well-written, moves along, and ends on a note that’s pretty accurate to real life: he (almost) falls in love with someone else. 

Read next: Love, to Me
Courtney Lowry
Courtney Lowry

Courtney Lowry is a senior photography major at SCAD. She can be found jamming out to PRETTYMUCH, writing poems, or raising awareness for psoriasis and mental health.

@courtneyllowry

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