26-year-old Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) is a happy, outgoing woman who lives with and supports her working-class family. After losing her job at a local cafe, she is hired as the caregiver of Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), a former successful banker and once active young man who became paralyzed after being involved in a motorcycle accident two years prior. Louisa has no experience but Will’s mother believes her positivity will help lift his spirits. Will also spends time with Nathan, his physical therapist, who mostly helps him with exercise and movement, despite both knowing he will never regain use of his body due to the damage to his spinal cord.
Cynical and depressed because he can no longer live a life of sports, activity, accomplishments, and luxury, he initially reacts coldly to Louisa’s joyful wackiness and treats her with contempt. However, one night, Will asks Louisa to stay late and watch a film with him, and she accepts. The two begin to bond and eventually become close friends. Will also has a visit from his former best friend and ex-girlfriend who reveal they are engaged and would like Will to attend the wedding. Louisa and Will continue to talk daily; she learns that he is cultured and worldly, having traveled extensively to cities like Paris, where he even has a favorite place. In contrast, her life so far has been simple, without many interests or hobbies or travel away from home. She has a long-term boyfriend, Patrick (Matthew Lewis), who is training to take part in a biking triathlon in Norway, a hobby that he often chooses over spending time with her. Will urges Louisa to change and tells her she should live life as fully as possible.
While at work one day, Louisa overhears Will’s parents and she learns that Will has given his parents six months before taking him to Dignitas in Switzerland for assisted suicide. He chooses not to accept live with a disability that implies dependency, pain and suffering without any hope for recovery of his old self to come back. In taking care of him during one of his occasional illnesses, Louisa notices Will’s scarred wrists from previous suicide attempts. Louisa then takes it upon herself to change his mind. She organizes various trips and adventures to show Will that life is worth living, despite his disability. Will gradually becomes more communicative and open to her plans. The pair go to a Mozart concert, watch the horse racing, and even decide to attend Will’s ex-girlfriend’s wedding together where Will enjoys upsetting the straight-laced guests. Louisa learns from the bride’s godmother that she considers Will to be the sole worthy among his banker colleagues, and had hoped that Will would be the bride’s husband.
Will joins Louisa’s family on her birthday, where they learn that Louisa’s father had lost his job in a leveraged buyout that happened to have been organized by a younger associate of Will. When shortly thereafter there is a job opening at the castle of Will’s parents, Louisa’s father is offered the job and Louisa realizes that Will is trying to help her secure her freedom from her family. Gradually they have developed strong feelings for one another, which makes Patrick jealous and causes problems in long-standing Louisa’s relationship.