Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Never Let Me Go - Review

Never Let Me Go is a quintessentially British sci-fi, of ITV Sunday drama proportions - can already tell how this review is going to end, can't you. Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, the film tells the tale of three people who become embroiled in a love triangle and disturbingly were genetically created for the sole purpose of becoming organ donors to severely ill people.

Though nicely filmed and featuring two of the best young actors in British cinema (and Keira Knightley), Never Let Me Go was ultimately an extremely hollow feature. Though being the stand-out performers, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield's love story was never given enough time to fully bloom into anything more than a extremely brief Shakespearean tragedy. While Knightly was an immature, selfish brat whom, even when trying to redeem herself was still as unlikeable as the first moments she appeared on screen.

Surprisingly however the young child actors playing the same characters, probably fared better than their older counterparts - plus kudos to the casting team for finding someone who is the spitting image of Carey Mulligan in the younger role of Cathy. In the first act, we got something which strangely felt like Gattaca crossed with the imagery of The Secret Garden, if that makes any sense. Had the story been centred on this period I personally felt we might have got a more challenging and engaging film, even if not the most accurate representation of the novel.

Equally so the headmistress and teachers who occupied the unsettling school of Hailsham, featuring the likes of the wonderful Sally Hawkins, the classy Charlotte Rampling and the elegant Nathalie Richard, painted morally ambiguous and far more, genuinely, interesting characters who never properly had a chance to stretch their abilities or delve into their personal woes.

I also felt the narrative was too sporadic and the dystopian themes, it was trying to convey, were unfortunately lost in the melodrama of the whole thing. There was never once any true suspense or urgency, just this stiff upper lip British acceptance that they were always going to be doomed from the opening scene and never once tried to fight the system or, save for a couple of flutterings here and there, never attempt to live a bit in the grotesquely short time they have in the living world. That's perhaps the most depressing and damning element of the whole film.

It might not have offended me as much as the god awful adaptation of The Lovely Bones last year, but a similar result to viewing Never Let Me Go is that the film has made me have little desire to ever read the book.

Final Thoughts
Never Let Me Go attempted to be beautiful, moving, morally challenging and equally heart-wrenching. However, it was unfortunately too soulless, dull, aimless and ambiguous for me to ever fully enjoy it. Which is a shame considering it was adapted to screen by Alex Garland who had a pretty proven track record until now. In conclusion, never let me watch it again.


Never Let Me Go is in cinemas throughout the UK from February 11th 2011.


rtm said...

Oy, I was so excited for this film when I saw the trailer. I still am going to see it once it's available on Netflix, but at least now I'll keep my expectation in check. Glad to hear the acting didn't disappoint though.

Custard said...

Nice review.

I saw this over the weekend and has a very similar feeling after it had finished.

I haven't been a fan of Kinghtly for ages now (something about her teeth, i know weird), but she did have the hardest role to play.

It was quite uncomfortable to watch but I did enjoy the acting and concept.

I posted a review over on my blog. Although mine isn't half as well written as yours, its nice to see we had the same opinion