Lou Clark needs money. She has lost her job as a waitress so she takes a position as caregiver to quadriplegic Will Traynor. Will is deeply unhappy, he was once a highly active sportsman, but now has lost all mobility. He can only move from the neck up. Lou is a young woman full of life, and though she has no experience as a carer, she throws everything into befriending Will and explodes across his life like a giant party popper. Will is not impressed, but Lou is undeterred. She continues to be herself, bringing smiles, happy banter and copious offers of tea. Eventually Will’s tough exterior begins to crack as Lou’s irrepressible personality breaks through, and they begin to form a genuine friendship.
When I began watching this film, to be honest, I found Lou a little annoying. She seemed as if she might be a chatty, multi-coloured nightmare on legs to have a round. Always smiling and animated, she seemed just a little too OTT. But as the story continued she won me over, and I decided I’d quite like to have someone like her as a friend. She is constantly full of life and hope, and willing to pass these things on to others. She wants to bring her new friend Will back to life, to instil purpose and joy where it has been lost.
When I speak at events I sometimes ask those in the audience whether they are glass-half-full people, or glass-half-empty people. Optimists or pessimists. (Lou Clark is definitely a glass-half-full and running over kind of person.) Whilst not being as pessimistic as some, I do often see the downside in something before I see the good, and this makes me cautious and holds me back. So I need folks like Lou Clark. When I went through a particularly troubled patch I was so grateful to have a can-do friend who kept lifting me up and encouraging me to laugh. Many of the folks around Jesus needed lifting up. Living in an oppressed society they had lost hope, and Jesus arrived as, to quote Isaiah, ‘the one who would not break off a bruised reed, or snuff out a flickering candle’ (Isaiah 42 v 3). To quote a prophecy from Luke 2 v 79 – he arrived ‘to bring light to those trapped in dismal darkness’. He had come to strengthen the broken and hearten the weary. In some ways he was not that different to Lou Clark.