Then Came You (***1/2)
“Then Came You,” directed by Peter Hutchings, is a small-town story with a big-swinging punch. Skye (Maisie Williams of “Game of Thrones”), a spirited teenager with terminal cancer, eagerly befriends Calvin (Asa Butterfield of “Sex Education” and “Hugo”), a soft-spoken nineteen-year-old stewing in the aftermath of a childhood tragedy. He’s failed out of college and deeply afraid of the world and all its lurking dangers. A heartfelt friendship ensues, one that proves to be the steady and unrelenting pulse of “Then Came You.”
It’s difficult to say whether the titular “you” is in reference to Skye or to Calvin, as both characters, upon meeting, are desperate for friendship, for connection, for some sort of touchstone in a world that has despite their young ages proven to be more bad than good. Skye, nearing the end of her all too short life, overwhelms Calvin with her unapologetic attitude. She demands to take up space in a world while she still has time to do so, and she elicits Calvin’s help in accomplishing this task. Together they cross off items on her bucket list, and to me, it’s the list that’s the most saccharine and tender part of the film. It’s so earnest and child-like. It’s a list full of things that any adult with life longevity and experience might cluck their tongue at as naive. Things like pass a lie detector test and punch someone in the face and lose virginity and be arrested. In the same way that Calvin changes Skye, so she too does for him. He’s isolated himself from life, and she reintroduces him to the action and beauty of the world.
It’s a sweet movie, one that jokes about the nature of the “cancer” movies that came before it. Skye even tells Calvin, “Don’t worry; I won’t take you to Amsterdam,” a plotline that appears in “The Fault in Our Stars.” Sometimes, however, it was too sweet, spitting out cringe-worthy lines like, “You terrify me.” Maisie brings gumption and youth and attitude to her Skye, but it’s Asa that steals the show. There’s something wildly compelling about him on screen; he’s so, so watchable. Maybe it’s the deep and unrelenting blue of his eyes, the uncoordinated dance moves, or the earnestness in which he delivers his lines, but he makes it easy to root for him. And when Skye (SPOILER ALERT) dies at the end of the film, you’re ready to dwell in your sadness right beside him.
The film has a strong cast which includes Nina Dobrev (“The Vampire Diaries”) as a potential love interest for Calvin, Tyler Hoechiln (“Fifty Shades Freed”) as Calvin’s older brother, David Koechner (“Anchorman”) as Calvin’s father, and Titus Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) as a flight attendant scripted for moments of comic relief in a fairly tense movie. Though “Then Came You” was a fun film and one that I enjoyed, it’s not one that’s going to linger and stick with me. It’s not something I’ll think about again and again. It feels absent of something, though its hard to put a finger on exactly what that is. It is a film that comes at you with a big-swinging punch, but the blow of it doesn’t quite land. Go ahead and watch it, but don’t rush to the theatre to do so. Three and a half out of five stars.