‘Never Let Me Go‘ is based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, the drama is followed by a sci-fi twist that can be perceived as realistic. It is developed over three different chapters narrated by Kathy (Carey Mulligan), who tells the story retrospectively, which should give you a better sense of the story but still leaves some gaps in it. The film has a nostalgic feel all throughout, the characters are seen smiling on screen briefly; the pained feeling is always floating in the atmosphere. This thriller/drama is well done, but if it wasn’t for the ambiguity of key points to the movie it could have been better.You will be left with a hollow feeling after watching it and after being hit with a very strong closing line.
The story is set in England, it revolves around Kathy and her two childhood friends Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield), who grew up in a boarding school for special children called Hailsham. The school seems to be an orphanage as the only adults are the teachers better known as ‘guardians’, here the children are taught to take care of their bodies and obey all rules without questioning them. The children’s faith is revealed pretty early in the story and that is what sets the mood for the rest of the film. The love triangle that is formed and continues to follow the children into their adulthood is meant to be a strong aspect of the movie and although it is easy to sympathize with it, their naivety and innocence which brings them together takes away from the strength of this bond.
These three children are forced into companionship by their own loneliness and fear of a world that they don’t know. When at 18 they leave the premises of Hailsham knowing the purpose for their existence they try to explore the world around them and figure out where they came from. Kathy becomes isolated by the relationship between her friends and she suffers silently until she makes the decision to change her life, even if it is still within the realm of what she is allowed in the few opportunities they are given. When they reach adulthood they try to fix mistakes made in the past and try to change the path they were given.
Knightley’s casting as a secondary character was surprising, but by the nature of the character it is understood, she gives a good performance and even makes us pity her. Mulligan’s innocence is really convincing and her sweet and obedient attitude keep the mood of the movie steady and at some points you just want to shake her to give her some confidence. Garfield is just there, but he does play one of the strongest moments of the movie remarkably. For director Mark Romanek this is definitely a step up from One hour photo.
The movie questions ethics, humanity, relationships and how much we really understand about our own lives and our purpose on earth as well as our time in it. The story line is good but it is not strong enough to be convincing. It is worth a watch specially for the hopeless romantics, but it is also worth the wait on the DVD.