Never Let Me Go (2010)

Never Let Me Go (2010) — So there is a “twist” in this film.  Except it’s not a twist really since it’s pretty much the entire premise of the film, but it’s nonetheless something, according to director Mark Romanek, you shouldn’t know going into the movie so I suppose I shouldn’t say anything… (although interestingly enough author of the book Kazuo Ishiguro feels the exact opposite).  Having read the book I knew everything that would happen anyway so I could just focus on the execution.  The story is about three students of a special boarding school called Hailsham.  The narrator is Kathy (Isobel Meikle-Small as a child, Carey Mulligan as a teen/adult) and the central relationships of the movie are with her friends Tommy (Charlie Rowe as a child, Andrew Garfield as a teen/adult) and Ruth (Ella Purnell as a child, Keira Knightley as a teen/adult).  Kathy likes Tommy but Tommy is with Ruth and Ruth is kind of full of herself.  That’s the basic interpersonal dynamic, though it’s play with much more depth than my casual summary.  All in all what the film is about is life.  Going on a total digression, I read a comic book once where this immortal guy who has lived thousands of years dies and he asks Death “was that all I got?” Death replies “You got the same as everyone else: a lifetime.”  That sentiment was very much in my head while watching the movie (and some closing narration kind of reinforces it).  The movie is heartbreaking and the other people in the theater were crying (not me though because I’m super-manly… ok, that’s bullshit, I shed a tear or two) but worth seeing anyway.  The film is superbly acted, re-affirming Carey Mulligan as perhaps the best new actress of the past couple years.  Andrew Garfield between Red Riding: 1974, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, The Social Network, and the announcement that he’s the next Spider-Man is also having one hell of a run.  The child counterparts to the main actors are also exceptionally well-cast, with Meikle-Small actually bear a reasonabley strong physical resemblance to Mulligan.  Screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine) translates Ishiguro’s amazing book into a powerful moving film.  Mark Romanek hasn’t made a feature length film since 2002’s One Hour Photo and it was worth the wait.  Highly recommended.

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