Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go, 2010, UK/USA
Never Let Me Go was a fascinating, thought-provoking and heart wrenching film. The film takes place in a dystopian world, but I won’t elaborate much on the details of the world because discovering the details is part of the joy of the film.
It focuses on three characters – Kathy (Isobel Meikle-Small as a child and Carey Mulligan as an adult), Ruth (Ella Purnell as a child and Keira Knightley as an adult), and Tommy (Charlie Rowe as a child and Andrew Garfield as an adult). The three friends go to school together at Hailsham Boarding School where they follow a strict regimen and diet. Kathy and Tommy become very close, but a love triangle forms when Ruth and Tommy begin dating. Over the years, Kathy pines for Tommy, and the three characters must grapple with the painful realities of their lives.
While the film is a dystopia and the theme of ethical advancements in technology and medicine are prominent, I’d say that love and the importance of living life fully are far more prominent themes. The film is broken into three parts, and these themes become fully realized in the latter two sections of the film.
The first third of the film takes place at Hailsham and the characters are children. This portion of the film was the weakest, and I found that it didn’t hold my attention. The film improved greatly in the second act, but it was the third act that was the strongest and most heartbreaking. In the third act, the three characters are full-fledged adults with problems unique to this world of the film, and seeing how they’ve all changed was incredibly moving. Mulligan, Knightley and Garfield are all fantastic in their roles. Their characters are complex, and feel painfully real.
The cinematography is astoundingly beautiful. There was so much beauty to contrast such deep sadness, and many of the shots seemed to emphasize the loneliness and despair felt by the characters. The score, which was composed primarily of string instruments, was perfect, and added so much emotion to the key scenes of the film.
I did get the sense that quite a bit of story was left out of the film, which was adapted from the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro. I wish I’d read the novel first, because this type of story is precisely the sort of literature I love most. I’m definitely going to read the book – I’m just deciding whether I want to order a physical copy (and wait for it to be delivered!), or pay slightly more for a copy on my iPad, which would be downloaded instantaneously. I’m leaning towards a physical copy, because I do have a couple of novels on the go right now, so I can definitely wait a few weeks to begin reading it.
I picked up a DVD copy of Never Let Me Go ages ago when a local video store was going out of business, but I have noticed that it is also available for rental on Netflix. I highly recommend it!