Never Let Me Go – Review

Never Let Me Go (2010)

Directed by Mark Romanek. Starring Carey MulliganAndrew GarfieldKeira Knightley

Finally Never Let Me Go gets released in the UK (more than 5 months after its premiere): maybe there were hoping for a few Oscar nominations to get more exposure. Instead they’ve got none… And you know why? I think it’s because actually the film is not that good.

If you haven’t seen it and you still want go spend some money for a ticket, then you should probably stay away from this review as it will contain some spoilers and as always a film is better enjoyed when you know as little as possible. I came to it knowing absolutely nothing, so you can imagine my surprise when I realized that it was actually a sort of a sci-fi story!

In a way I like I was watching an extended episode of “The Twilight Zone”: it had the same feel of impending doom that some of those best episodes seemed to have, but also I couldn’t help thinking that it all could have worked better as a short story/film, instead of the long drawn-out experience that “Never Let me Go” is.

First of all let me just say that I really want to applaud the original concept: I like the actual and the whole message  behind it all. The film has been adapted by Alex Garland (who’d written The Beach, 28 Days Later among the others) from a novel by Japanese-English Novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (who gave us things like The Remains of the Day).

Alex Garland does deserve some credit for sticking to the restraints of the novel, but also director Mark Romanek deserves some credit too for the intense mood he managed to create: however all that gray from the sky and the landscape and in the characters’ clothes after a while does spill into my feeling about the film. It’s neither black nor white… just a middle dull gray that failed to engage me as much as it probably should have.

The founding premise, must be said,  has already been explored in several novels and film within the sci-fi genre many time before (see Michael Bay’s The Island, for example… Obviously that is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum), but at least here it’s good to see them avoiding the clichés of the typical futuristic-looking-city with people dressed up in translucent lycra and flying cars… Instead we have a sort of alternate reality looking like 60s or 70s.

I haven’t read the original, but I hear it has some of the same issues (or faults in my view) that the film has. You can probably got away with on the written page, but up there, on the screen, my patience run out pretty soon as the story became too mechanical and the plot holes became more and more apparent. There’s something literally “vital” missing. It just didn’t ring true!

So much so, that after a while the film completely stopped working for me, especially on an emotional level. And it’s not because the whole thing is sparse and slow and muted, but mainly because the story became so unreal and contrived that after a while I stopped believing in the characters and eventually stopped caring for them.

It’s strange to be put off by the feeling on “unreal” in what’s essentially a sci-fi, but when that gets in the way of the emotional response one should have towards the characters, then something is wrong with it.

For a start I just could not  believe that these people would do nothing to try to question their fate that’s been set up for them. I also myself not really buying into the fact that Andrew Garfield’s character was in love with Carey Mulligan. I can’t quite figure out if it’s again a problem with the script itself or with Garfield’s acting: I prefer to go for the first option, since I’ve already stated my problems with the story anyway and I want to believe Garfield is actually a better actor than he was allowed to be here.

Carey Mulligan is probably the best of the three actors, but even poor Carey’s doomed face became a bit tiresome after a while.

Finally Keira Knightley, even though she pulls off one of her best performances she’s ever displayed, still manages to annoy the hell out of me, even though, as it’s been noted before, she overcomes the implausibility of being donor of organs: where would she actually keep them?

In short, there wasn’t enough to fill a whole movie… and for me to care.


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