Never Let Me Go (12a)
Dir. Mark Romanek
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
"Are we human? Or are we dancer? My sign is vital, my hands are cold…”
Never Let Me Go is a powerful, haunting and life affecting story of true love, bitter jealousy and all that it means to be ‘human’.
Based on Kazuo Ishiguro's highly acclaimed novel, director Mark ‘One Hour Photo’ Romanek delivers a film that will slowly and carefully unpick your soul. Romanek is the guy who made one of my favourite ever films – the little known, low budget oddity ‘Static.’ With Never Let Me Go however he is at the helm of a full blooded big screen classic, enhanced by having a stellar cast in the form of Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley).
"through a glass darkly"
The story tells the tale of three seemingly normal friends growing up together, their lives connected by a heart breaking secret. We join them at their time at Hailsham – an oppressive boarding school cut off from the outside world. The teachers, led by the matriarchal Miss Emily (a great turn from Charlotte Rampling) keep their students fed a strictly limited diet of information, and engender a rule of fear created by awful tales of what happens to anyone who ventures further than the school gates.
If you’ve read the book you’ll know what is going on but if like me you come to Never Let Me Go without prior knowledge then you are in for a head spinning treat. I’m not going to explain what makes Kathy, Tommy and Ruth different from the rest of us, but there is a wonderfully sinister backdrop of this film, which comes to drive the main story with some fascinating science fiction elements.
"Ella Purnell does a good young Keira"
Don’t approach Never Let Me Go looking for a feel good experience. The screening I saw this at had several female audience members in tears by the time the end credits rolled. The story is certainly dark and tragic, yet also deeply thought-provoking and likely to leave you pondering what you’ve seen for some time to come.
The cinematography is gorgeous throughout, employing an otherworldly slightly washed out style which works really well in depicting the alternate 1980s England settings. The kids playing the younger versions of Keira Knightley (Ella Purnell), Carey Mulligan (Izzy Meikle-Small) and Andrew Garfield (Charlie Rowe) were excellent too and could well be ones to watch as future talent.
"the future may be bleak"
Screenwriter Alex ‘Dredd’ Garland does a good job in making the novel work on screen and Romanek shows just how good a director he is by handling the building unease masterfully and delivering an artistic treaty on the sadness of being or wanting to be human.
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(4 - broken hearts and 'what ifs')...
Awesomeness ööö – powerful stuff
Laughs öö – limited laughs (in the dark)
Horror ööö – an effective growing sense of 'wrongness'
Babes ööö – Carey Mulligan outshines Keira Knightley
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – love is human
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Second opinion - try reeltalk