Me Before You, the romantic drama starring ‘Game of Thrones’ actor Emilia Clarke has been criticised by disability rights groups who say the film is sending out a negative message about the lives of people with disabilities.

The story below contains spoilers about the film’s plot.

Emilia ClarkeEmilia Clarke stars in Me Before You.

The film, which is based on the book of the same name by Jojo Moyes, follows a man named Will who is paralysed after an accident and considers ending his life. At the end of the film despite finding love with Clarke’s character, Will still chooses to end his life.

At the film’s premiere in London disabled activist group Not Dead Yet staged a red carpet protest and they have since adopted the film’s #LiveBoldly tagline on social media. Speaking to Buzzfeed, Ellen Clifford from Not Dead Yet said: “The message of the film is that disability is tragedy and disabled people are better off dead.”

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“It comes from a dominant narrative carried by society and the mainstream media that says it is a terrible thing to be disabled.” Clifford went on to say that she found it “deeply ironic” that the disabled character was urging the able-bodied character to “live boldly”. “What about him? The message is that you can’t [live boldly] as a disabled person.”

In a comment piece for the Guardian, protestor Penny Pepper wrote: “You kill off the hero because he’s disabled and churn out repetitive cliches about disabled lives that has me reaching for my specially adapted axe. This is just weeks after the Invictus Games and a few months before the Paralympics. Wait – aren’t some of those participants 'horribly paralysed'? The messages are horribly mixed.”

But the film has been defended by director Thea Sharrock, who told The Hollywood Reporter: “I didn’t quite anticipate this. The disappointing thing is when people make a protest when they haven’t either read the book or seen the film.”

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When asked what she’d say to those who think the movie’s message is offensive to those with disabilities, Sharrock added: “It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what the message is. I was attracted to this because I love the almost traditional love story that lies behind it…The message of the film is to live boldly, push yourself, don’t settle.”

On social media US campaigners have being using the hashtag #MeBeforeAbleism to voice their criticisms. ‘Disabled people are constantly told that we're a burden and should put abled people before us. #MeBeforeAbleism,’ wrote one tweeter. Another added: ‘#MeBeforeAbleism because my disability is not more tragic than everything I'd leave behind.’