Never Let Me Go Reviews
At first I thought this was just going to be a film about a love triangle between three childhood friends (which essentially it was), but added to the already complicated plot was a sci-fi twist, which makes the story doubly interesting and each character's plight a bit more complex. Overall, the acting was good-- the notion was truly engaging and you feel genuine sympathy for each character's struggles, especially after knowing the characters' special circumstances. I like films that make me think about the what if I was in that situation or how would I deal with things if that idea existed in my time-- this is one of those films that makes you take a look at yourself internally and questions your morals and challenge your current beliefs. It truly is very interesting.
That said, I'll try to explain why this movie felt like a mess.
On the outside, it sounds promising. Great cast, solid screenwriter, and based on an acclaimed novel. What could go wrong? Well, let me put it this way: Never Let Me Go is not a very good story. Yes, it is one of my favorite books, but the basic story itself is fairly drab and one-note. What made it so good were all the intricately woven details that kept the entire thing from falling apart. It's carefully crafted to the point that one part out of place would basically make the entire thing crumble.
And that's the issue here. Translating something so delicate and with so many details to the big screen is likely going to mean something is out of place. And the problem is there is nothing majorly wrong with the movie, but so many small details feel wrong.
For example, the voice-overs are kind of an issue. It makes sense at the beginning and the end of the movie, but when Carey Mulligan has to tell the audience what's going on and why it matters, then clearly something is wrong. I would imagine people with no knowledge of the book would be lost halfway through. And the movie moves along at such a quick pace introducing so many details that it would be difficult to keep up. Nothing is allowed to seep in.
The acting is very good, but I could not help but feel Keira Knightley is poorly miscast. Not only does she have little screentime, but she's not an actress who usually plays conniving, jealous characters. It's not just that she's miscast though, as she's talented enough to pull off such a character. The bigger issue is how underwritten her character is. I can see the viewer having disdain for her character, but it feels manufactured, cliched and forced, not natural and believable.
As far as direct comparisons to the book, the thing that felt most off to me was how forced and focused love story between the main characters was. In the novel, it progresses a bit more naturally and in the background while the characters deal with the other issues. But this is one of those things that works better in writing than on film. If the movie didn't focus on the two of them together early or pining for each other in every scene, the audience might find a sudden romance to be forced.
The movie has some good points. Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield are very good. And the ending is still very sad, but for me it was sad because it just kept reminding me of the last few pages of the book (that make me tear up even thinking about).
This movie just feels like an unnecessary watch. There's nothing worthwhile unless you're a huge fan of the three main actors. If the story itself is what you're interested in, then I suggest you read the book (it's not very long anyway). And if you only want the boiled-down, soulless, quick summation of the novel, then cliffnotes would do just as well as this movie.