Never Let Me Go: Movie Review
Never Let Me Go
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
Gradually the bonds grow stronger between the trio - as their confined
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
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
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