“Never Let Me Go” is a Poetic Film Full of Pathos by Joseph Misuraca

Posted on January 21, 2012

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Never Let Me Go was one of the best films to be released in 2011. I highly recommend everyone to rent or purchase this gem. Mark Romanek’s directing is superb and the cinematography by Adam Kimmel is stunning. Alex Garland’s script, adapted from the eponymous novel by Japanese-English writer, Kazuo Ishiguro, is beautiful and memorable. Carey Mulligan, a newcomer actor (Ed. Note: now a Hollywood It Girl), is perfect as the protagonist, Kathy, whilst Keira Knightly is suitable to the role of the antagonistic rival, Ruth, although her performance is slightly vexing. Andrew Garfield also delivers a satisfying and convincing performance as the confused and ostracised Tommy. The supporting British-filled cast compliment the main three actors with their apt and powerful performances.

Film poster for "Never Let Me Go".

This dystopian drama is about a parallel world, beginning in 1978 and ending in 1994-95. Scientists have developed innovative medical technology to prolong human beings’ life-spans to 100 years. With breakthroughs in cloning, people are being duplicated and the clones are harvested in private colleges and institutions in England. Once they reach the age of 18 they are allowed to move to the cottages where they can experience life in the everyday world. When they become middle-aged, they are obliged to donate their organs to the hospitals for humans to use. Most of the clones are deemed ‘completed’ – dead – when they have donated three organs.

Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.

The younger Kathy, Ruth and Tommy are played by Isobel Meikle-Small, Ella Purnell and Charlie Rowe. Tommy refuses to conform and is ridiculed by his classmates; Kathy consoles him and they form a bond. Ruth pretends to despise Tommy but as they get older she steals him from Kathy. They become donors whilst Kathy becomes a carer – someone who helps a donor recover from their operations. The three friends struggle to maintain ties over the years and race against time to be with each other and experience what regular humans do. Despite the mistake of exposition in the middle of the film and the somewhat tired subject matter of future scientific and medical ethics, it is exquisite.

The ending is touching and this entire film is an insightful exploration of ontology and the themes of love, relationships, forgiveness, time and the transient nature of our existence. It is a reminder of how we all lead different lives but are connected through our mortality.

Joseph Misuraca is You’re Dripping Egg’s newest (and most refreshingly concise) reviewer. For more reviews of Keira Knightly films, see Caitlin McGrane’s “Last Night” or “How I Learned to Stop Hating Keira Knightley”.

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Posted in: Movies