March 1, 2011
The movie "Never Let Me Go" is very British in atmosphere and color. It is melancholic and slow, with a very pale look to it. It starts with the main character and narrator, Kathy H (Carey Mulligan), who calls herself a "carer" looking on as Tommy (Andrew Garfield) is being prepared for surgery. As we are brought back to their childhood in a strict isolated school called Hailsham back in 1978, their teen years in the Cottages in 1985 and their adulthood in 1994. We slowly realize what sort of school Hailsham really is, and the sad fate that awaits its students when they grow up.
I watched this movie primarily because of its stars. Carey Mulligan confirms her talent after her Oscar nomination for "An Education." Her portrayal of Kathy is very heartfelt and sincere. Andrew Garfield's performance as the strange Tommy is a bit uneven. Keira Knightley, as the senior member of the lead triumvirate, is a bit disappointing as the tragic Ruth. I feel she did not handle the character well enough, or maybe it was the way the character was written. Charlotte Rampling and Sally Hawkins were also memorable in their brief roles as Hailsham teachers.
As someone who has not read the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro nor any idea of what the story is about, I was surprised as the story gradually and unexpectedly moved from fuzzy childhood puppy love into the realm of cold science fiction. The treatment of the story by director Mark Romanek was very methodical and philosophical. This is a another movie that will not easily be popular because of its controversial and morbid subject matter. It does make a valiant effort though to create a positive meaning out of the intrinsically negative premise. But maybe a lot of people will be turned off when they find out what the movie is really about midway through.