Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cinema--Never Let Me Go

or: Living a life set out for you.

One word to sum it up: Depressing.

Last year in social studies we did a debate about the 'ethics of death' and whether it was okay to have children born solely for the purpose of donating organs. This was a topic which completely baffled me. Was it okay to have a life cut short just for the comfort of others? Or did the others who really needed it have to have these kind of people around so they could have a shot at living? This argument was one which I had questioned such a long time ago, but after watching Never Let Me Go, I started to wonder about this again. All I know is, this movie has opened me up to a world which I never want to see happen. What these people go through is simply unfair.

On the surface, Never Let Me Go appears to be a film about a love triangle between friends Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley). The three spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic and very organised boarding school. Kathy has always been interested in Tommy, but Ruth, who is quite manipulative, starts a relationship with Tommy, and Kathy quietly wishes that they would separate. But this love triangle is but a small factor of their lives. They live the life that they have planned out for them, and all the while protect themselves for the well being of others. All they have to do is prepare themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them.

Having not read the source material (I am going to very soon though), I can't make the comparisons and such between the two. The premise is a very intriguing one. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't be able to live in a world knowing that someone has been cloned to benefit others, and these people were all locked away from the real world. Forget all the apocalyptic BS going around at the moment, this idea right here scares me. I would never want to live my life having it all planned out for me. And to be honest, I'd hate to live without making choices for myself. This is what makes this movie so sad. The children of Hailsham are treated like they aren't humans and they don't have souls. That just broke my heart.

Alex Garland has had a very interesting career. He started off by writing the novel for the much maligned movie The Beach. Then he wrote the screenplay for another Danny Boyle movie, 28 Days Later... He reteamed with Boyle again for sci-fi thriller Sunshine. These three movies all have something in common with Never Let Me Go. The Beach features another world which is so far away from the real one, much like Hailsham and the normal day-to-day life we would know. 28 Days Later... takes a look at not only science, but sacrifice and again, a different sort of world. Sunshine looks at the decisions people make for the greater good of others, and the choice to make the world exponentially better. Sure, the kids don't save the sun or whatever, but they bump life expectancy up a hell of a lot. Never Let Me Go is by far the most restrained of Garland's work, and while I felt that a great deal was missing from the screenplay, his work in capturing the poor lives of these people was brilliant. Mark Romanek provides a beautiful fluidity to the film, with brilliant cinematography and music to boot. Romanek made the right choice going with this one instead of The Wolfman, that's for sure.

While the screenplay required a bit more work, the actors ensured that things kept chugging along. Firstly, the actors chosen to play the three main characters as children were perfect. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought that their 'originals' were really Mulligan, Garfield and Knightley. Carey Mulligan, coming off the back of her stunning Oscar nominated performance in An Education won my heart over as the understanding Kathy. She was just so innocent and so relaxed. Keira Knightley, an actress who has dropped off the radar a bit of late, makes a good turn in this film. Her character was quite confounded and somewhat annoying, but Knightley pulled off these traits beautifully. But for me, Andrew Garfield stole the show. He was adorable (and I don't mean just looks wise). He was just so confused by it all, and Garfield paid attention to every single detail of this interesting character. After all, this man was the reason I cried so much. Just thinking about Never Let Me Go right now makes me feel so sad. Thought this would be a typical romantic drama for two? Think again. It's not for everyone, but it was definitely right for me.

THE VERDICT: A bleak tale with an interesting premise, the script may not complete the film, but all round, this is as depressing as they come. The performances are well done beyond compare.

What I hoped for:

What I got:


  1. So glad there is another person to jump on the Never Let Me Go train as it has been TOTALLY underrated and has had a 'meh' response for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

    Can't agree with you on the screenplay though, (it captured the subtleness of the whole story imo), but the rest, YES! Carey Mulligan and Garfield together captured me, though. I mean, the scene in the woods when [SPOILER FOR ANYONE WHO MAY BE READING, AND NO ONE WILL BE READING MY COMMENT JUST THE REVIEW] Kathy thinks that Tommy is going to say 'I can't get the deferal because I love you' and he doesn't, and the one tear that Kathy sheds. UGHH. Thinking of it makes me want to burst out in an uncontrollable flood of tears, dammit.

    Knightely completely won me over in that role though, which I never expected. She needs to do more stuff like this instead of playing the same god damn character over and over again.

    I recommend the book so highly. Had it on my pile of stuff to read for years after my mum read it when it came out, and I eventually got round to reading it last year or the year before, (can't remember now), and it is a beautiful book. Far different from the film, but in a good way. It's like they have the same story, the same characters, but it goes into a completely different realm. And both stand on their own two feet as seperate works, which is great.

    I do have to point out though, that I CANNOT stand the poster. The original when Tommy and Kathy are running was SO much better than that disgustingly bad photoshop *shudders*

  2. This film was so beautiful and sad and everything.
    The scenes which killed me were when little Kathy listens to Never Let Me Go, the part when Kathy and Tommy find out the truth about the deferal story, and when Tommy screams.
    Andrew Garfield was so incredible in this film that words cannot describe it. I loved Carey M also. I hate Keira Knightley in general, so I had no problem hating Ruth.
    I loved the way it's shot. This film deserved so much more.
    Love the book!

  3. Truly loved this film - possibly the most underrated of the year!
    having read the book, I'd wager that you are really gonna dig it - it gives a bit more texture.

    Just curious, was there anywhere in particular that you wanted more out of the script?

  4. I really need to see this one, it sounds great and I feel like I'm missing out...

    Great review Stevee!

  5. Cherokee - I don't even know where this 'meh' response came from. This film was bloody amazing. God, that scene in the woods broke my heart. In fact, any scene which involved Garfield and Mulligan together was brilliant. Knightley has never been one of my favourite actresses, but I did like her here.
    I'm going to read the book soon...I've just got to wait until it becomes available at my library. I can't wait to read it! And I totally agree with you about the poster. I really like the one where they are running much more.

    Nikhat - Gosh, those scenes killed me too. When I saw the deferral scene I was in tears, and everytime I wiped them away they just kept on coming. I love a film which does that. You're right, it did deserve much more.

    Hatter - Agree with you. I don't even know why it was so underrated.
    Ah, the script. I don't know what it was. It just always felt like it was missing something, but maybe when I read the book I'll probably understand the subtlety and everything.

    Jack - Thank you! You really need to see it. I don't want to overrate it or anything but I thought it was truly beautiful!

  6. I liked this film a lot, and I agree with you, it is quite depressing, and I wouldn't like to find myself in such a world as it was portrayed here.

  7. Jeez, I would not want to live in a world like that one.


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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