Never Let Me Go Reviews
Can't say more than that, can one?
But I'll try.
Good performances, solid production values and yet ...
the whole movie's like getting a bowl of hot, melted ice cream at your dearly beloved grandmother's funeral.
Like taking a group of puppies to the animal shelter.
Like being the only one to work on Christmas Day and finding you have to do a double cause yer relief's not coming in.
You get it. I kept asking myself: " How long can this go on?"
If this film is a love triangle story, it fails because neither Ruth nor Kathy is particularly interesting and it's impossible to conceive why they would vie for Tommy's affection as he also has no distinct character traits. If this film is a science fiction story about a dystopian future, then it fails because the world the film creates is a blurred backdrop and nothing important is either attempted or accomplished to upset the social order; these kids merely attempt to delay the inevitable, and their reflections about life and death are the material of high school poetry. The primary problem is that the film tries to be both -- and fails.
Overall, this film tries to do too much, and such is the danger when adapting a novel in which all things can be given full play.
Music-video director Mark Romanek ("One-Hour Photo") keeps trying to break into feature films, but he's having trouble learning the art of film. He composes beautiful sequences, as you'd expect from a music-video man. What he's not learning is the skill of stringing together sequences to make a compelling film. This was his problem with "One-Hour Photo" (2002), and it's his problem with his follow-up film as well.
"Never Let Me Go" had everything going for it: a superb, dark story (based on a Kazuo Ishiguro novel), excellent art direction and cinematography, and a stellar cast. But Romanek couldn't pull it together. Almost every scene is more languid than it needs to be. And, most irritating, each sequence is 30% longer than it should be. Everything is stretched out to the point where the viewer wants to slit his wrists in all the slack periods. After about an hour, I couldn't take it anymore.
How sad, because this really should have been a major film. The central plot depicts a world (an alternative present) where England has created factory farms for humans. Clones are created and raised in remote, isolated boarding schools, until such time as their organs can be harvested for transplant. The main characters (played beautifully by Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield) are clones trying to accept their fate and their short life expectancy.
With a director who knew how to make feature films, "Never Let Me Go" might have been a major film. With Romanek's massive weaknesses as a filmmaker (particularly as an editor), it doesn't come together. Pity. This should have been great. Don't blame Ishiguro or any of the actors.
Unfortunately, what is being presented here certainly isn't anything novel, and what really propels the film is a kind of off-beat love triangle - though I use the term propel lightly, as the film moves at a glacial pace - allowing the viewer to wallow in the dark tones and somber attitudes enough to make you want to slash your own wrists.
I don't really want to reveal anything in case you haven't read the book this is based on, but suffice to say we are witness to a group of youngsters in a English boarding school situation that is, well... different. They come through the teen years and bonds are formed, although there is an ominous tone that pervades every scene.
There is a certain payoff at the very end of the film that is quite poignant and well done, but you sure have to wait a long time for it; slogging through many a scene meant, I'm sure, to be revelatory in nature, but do not tell the viewer anything he hasn't figured out well before the scenes transpire.
The big moral question here does have some possible future relevance, but again, I seen the subject matter handled much better in several novels and other, more mainstream Sci-fi flicks that came decades before this one. I'm sure director Mark Romanik was trying to say something profound, given the subject matter, but this is a quiet little film that I can't recommend as it travels well trodden ground, and its only real revelation is perhaps an unintentional one: that governments lie to us.
On film, Kazuo Ishiguro's agonising existential allegory - in which three friends (Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley) grow up in a quietly horrifying alternative reality - becomes a melancholic masterclass in restraint, both profound and moving. Material this fragile could have broken in less sensitive hands than those of screenwriter Alex Garland and, particularly, director Mark Romanek. In another universe, Never Let Me Go may have won Oscars for its script, cinematography, music, direction and triumvirate of exquisite performances, from three of the premier actors of their generation. Difficult to imagine a more perfectly realised adaptation of a novel; fine literature translated into movie lyricism.
Interesting argument, bad execution*.
What defines the soul? What distinguishes human beings from machines? Isnīt the emotional field, the capacity to have emotions? Can a machine be so perfect to the point it can develop any human characteristic like envy, jealousy, hope, love?
"We didn't have The Gallery in order to look into your souls. We had The Gallery to see if you had souls at all."
For me this sentence is nothing but absurd. I can imagine a computer, a robot creating a piece of art, but I canīt imagine they dreaming or suffering. I am not really able to define my beliefs and I wonīt get into this subject, but in my opinion, if a cloning succeeds itīs not only because of some bright people happened to know how to do it. If you know what I mean.
Kathy, Tommy and Ruth are some of several special children who grow up in an austere English boarding school called Hailsham. The thing is that these children are all clones created by the government with the purpose to provide organ transplants to humans. Itīs interesting to note that theyīre mostly based off of what they call trash: prostitutes, criminals, etc. Why that?
"If you ask people to return to darkness, the days of lung cancer, breast cancer, motor neurone disease, they'll simply say no."
Wouldnīt we? Wouldnīt we say "oh, theyīre not humans and they come from the worst type of people, people our society doesnīt need". So how much humans (in the meaning of "Christians") we are? And how different would we be from them?
Human condition and contradictions, justifications, lies. Thereīs a particular dialogue that called my attention:
- Ruth, why do you do that thing? Squeezing Tommy's shoulder.
- I'm allowed to touch Tommy, aren't I?
- It's the way you're touching him. You know what I mean.
It's copied from that television show.
- That's so not...
- Don't tell me "that's so not true." All that behavior,
that's not what people do out there, in real life, if that's what you were thinking. (...) You copy them, and they copy from a television show.
Maybe you donīt think about these things, so you wonīt get my point, but what I am asking is: wow original we are? Donīt we tend to live our life copying what we think is the right just as an escape from the only truth we know, our mortal condition?
And, even knowing Iīm going too far and that itīs not a question the film brings, this particular dialogue made me think of how most of us live just like them, how we see us as simple mortals with determined lives when people out there (in our case, usually famous people), are the only ones allowed to live fully.
*Itīs unacceptable to think that any of them would rebel against their condition, against the system. Not even one of them would refuse to pass their bracelet in that indifferent gesture of workers punching in and punching out the time clock?
** Thereīs a quote in the film Lisbon Story that can work as a synopsis or the epilogue of Never Let Me Go: "The Iight of the burning candIe gave me the feeIing that I am nothing, I am a fiction. What do I expect from this worId? What do I expect from you and from myseIf? I could have prophetic powers, understand all mysteries and all knowledge, I could have faith that would move mountains, but if I didn't have love, I would be nothing." (Pessoa, December 1934)
Which is not to say, of course, that it's without flaws. That aforementioned soundtrack, which sounds great, is nonetheless something of a sledgehammer, feeling like a post-production apology for the way the story is told. Its dramatic strings are at odds with the unhistrionic dialogues on existence, hope and futility. Indeed, the critical sector's greatest problem with the film is its "coldness." Many people feel emotionally unaffected by it, but I think its distance is both a trapping of the story being told and a considerable asset to it. Their circumstances are totally alien to viewers who have at least some degree of autonomy - which is to say, nearly all of them. Ruth, Tommy and Kathy's attempts at finding romance aren't necessarily the sad part of the film, but the fact that they're struggling against all the feelings they've been brought up to feel just to salvage some degree of happiness is crushing. Never Let Me Go's attitude is that of terminal pessimism, even when the characters are trying to convince themselves otherwise. This isn't a Notebook-style tearjerker, but a creeping piece on resignation and defeat, and at least among its contemporaries that makes it unique.
Director: Mark Romanek
Summary: Based on Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed novel, this sci-fi drama from director Mark Romanek is centered on thirtysomething Kathy (Carey Mulligan), who reflects on her time spent at Hailsham, an English boarding school, alongside classmates Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield). Born for an unusual reason, the three struggle with their destiny and their love triangle.
My Thoughts: "An emotional, poetic, romantic, yet depressing film. At a young age the children from Hailsham, find out from Miss Lucy what will become of them, and their reason for existing. Their acceptance of it all is disturbing. In the end you root for Tommy and Kathy even knowing what the outcome will be. I kept thinking, 'RUN AWAY'! But of course they do not act selfishly as you would want them to which makes it even more sad. The scene where Tommy is outside the car in one of his raging fits, that's where the true heart-break is cause it makes it so final. The story is haunting and heart-breaking. I definitely shedded a few or more tears throughout the film. The performances is what makes this film so great. I was really impressed by Carey Mulligan, she was terrific. Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield put in fantastic performances as well. A definite must see."
The ending especially, raising its questions of death, our time on this earth, and what we feel we've achieved in it, struck a chord with me.
"What I'm not sure about is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we've saved. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we've lived through, or feel we've had enough time."
And last, but certainly not least, Carey Mulligan delivered a stunning performance, so brilliantly conveying the love and loss experienced through the film.