Thursday, 17 March 2011

Never Let Me Go: Movie Review

Never Let Me Go: Movie Review

Never Let Me Go
Rating: 8/10
Cast: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield
Director: Mark Romanek
(Be warned - necessary spoilers ahead)
From the 2005 book by Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go has been adapted for the screen by Alex Garland.
It starts with an announcement that in 1952, a medical breakthrough means the average life expectancy now extends past 100 years old.
Then we fade into an idyllic English boarding school where we meet Carey Mulligan's narrator Kathy H as a school kid - she's been best friends with Ruth since forever. And their lives are completed by the friendship Kathy forms with Tommy.
Gradually the bonds grow stronger between the trio - as their confined existence grows.
The children there are essentially clones, being nurtured as organ donors for those outside in the real world. In a climate of oppression, they're told never to leave the grounds, have limited social interaction with the outside world (they're taught in classes how to order tea in cafes) and are encouraged to paint for inclusion in an exclusive gallery.
But it's not good for the trio - Kathy's lost Tommy to a relationship with Ruth.
Years pass - and the three of them find their lives permanently intertwined as their inevitable path plays out.
Never Let Me Go is haunting, harrowing, depressing and yet incredibly powerfully compelling viewing.
It begins with an air of mystery and intrigue as you know there's something different about these children but the reality of what it is evades you initially.
Once the truth comes out (via a great interruption by Sally Hawkins' disruptive school teacher who's honest with the kids), it suddenly adds a level of poignancy to this forlorn trio - they're told they'll complete (ie die) during their donations but it's all part of who and what they are.
An offer of deferral from the National Donor programme gives some hope - but when that reality is scotched, the world comes crashing down.
Essentially a three hander, this film is wonderfully acted by all three - Mulligan is hypnotic and shines as a detached forlorn Kathy, doomed to never be with her love; Knightley adds a subtlety to the manipulative Ruth and there's real anguish in Garfield's Tommy.
Deliberately drably shot (even landscapes look gloomy) this film is beautifully put together by Romanek.
The mournful, maudlin and sombre tone may not be for all and there's a little frustration at not exploring (or making you understand) why they can't run from the programme but ultimately this poignant and angsty piece is about love and accepting your mortality.

Never Let Me Go will haunt you and remain with you long after you've left the cinema.

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