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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just ahead, I'll tell you how to know if you'll love or hate this movie
(very few will be in between). But first, I'm always surprised to see
people reading the novel, rushing to the movie, and then expressing
disappointment with remarks such as, "there are gaping holes." A 2-hour
movie is a 110-page screenplay, which means a 300-page novel becomes a
6-hour miniseries. Get Martin Scorcese, hire "Never Let Me Go" novelist
Kazuo Ishiguro to write the screenplay, and cast it right, and you'll
have a shot at making a miniseries that CAN be compared to the novel;
otherwise, let's understand the limitation and let the film stand on
its own. I didn't read Ishiguro's novel, and I found Mark Romanek's
film (screenplay by Alex Garland) to be a beautiful, profound and
complete meditation on life. It demonstrates the best and worst of
human behavior, the beauty of undying love, and the heroism of
accepting responsibility (or fate in this case). To me, the story is
uplifting and memorable, in spite of its overall sad and melancholy
tone. What's more, it's seamless, from the superb performances by Carey
Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield, to the near perfect
direction by Romanek, to its gorgeous cinematography with muted color
palette, to its precise wabi-sabi production design (the beauty of worn
and broken things). But how can you know if you'll like this film or
Forget the Sci-Fi angle; it's insignificant except as a stepping-off point for a story that reveals great truths: That life is short, your choices have consequences, and at the end none of us may feel we've had enough time to love, or just get things right. But I can safely say... If you interpret your movies literally, you will not like this film. If you need action, a fast pace, explosions and special effects, you will not like this film. If your idea of a great movie is Inception, forget it.
On the other hand, if you can appreciate a fine story by Henry James, Edith Wharton, or Katherine Anne Porter, this film is made for you. If you enjoyed Todd Haynes' lovely melodrama, Far from Heaven, or Oren Moverman's powerful movie, The Messenger, or Tom Ford's poignant film, A Single Man, you'll love this picture. The story addresses themes of love, longing, jealousy, betrayal, courage, atonement, and perhaps most important "acceptance." The film also asks us to consider the "morality of science," and some might find this aspect chilling, but to me the larger human themes overwhelm this one.
When I saw Never Let Me Go, the theater was about one-third full, but probably one-third of these folks walked out by the half-way point. And, surprisingly, the couple sitting behind me got up and walked out 10 minutes before the end, once they were convinced (revealed by their groans) that the story would not have a happy ending. Apparently, they were looking for the "feel good movie of the year." Sadly, they missed the most extraordinary and beautiful ending -- most of the emotional power comes in that last 10 minutes -- but then I suppose they wouldn't have understood it. But to me, Never Let Me Go is the "feel good movie of the year," precisely because it tells the truth: life is beautiful because there are hopes and dreams, love and loss, tears and tragedies.
One final note: Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield are excellent in their roles, but Carey Mulligan is the standout -- she shows a wisdom and weariness far beyond her years, and handles difficult emotional material with a sublime restraint that makes the whole thing work. I feel we are witnessing the early work of the next Deborah Kerr, Sarah Miles, or Vanessa Redgrave.
This is an excellent film, one of the best of the year, and not to be missed by those who appreciate depth and literary quality.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just recently finished reading Never Let Me Go. I have very rarely
been so intrigued by the subject matter of a book and at the same time
so bored by its style. Never Let Me Go, the book, was deadly dull.
Still, I was so intrigued, as I say, by the plight of these characters,
that I was compelled to see how the book translated to the big screen.
You might say I felt this novel and original storyline deserved a
All in all, I give the movie adaptation a thumbs up, with one big caveat: I think those who did not read the book first would be left scratching their heads. While the book was slow and plodding (and devoted MUCH too much detail to certain occurrences in the storyline), nevertheless it offered the opportunity for reflection on the subtleties of what was taking place. Given the pacing of a typical movie, if you blink, you might miss something momentous and I think that was the case with this movie, so it certainly helped to have read the book prior to seeing the film. The screenwriters did an excellent job of condensing the book, and I felt, after having read it, that condensing was precisely what this otherwise compelling and poignant story required.
Never Let Me Go was a lyrical and visually beautiful production. The accompanying musical score was appropriate to a sad and heartbreaking story. The acting was terrific - especially by Cary Mulligan whose sad eyes reveal the melancholy of her character, and Keira Knightly, especially in the hospital scene where she portrays a nearly depleted "donor." I didn't care much for the male lead, but his one outbreak of emotion upon having his hopes of a "deferral" dashed was very significant. And the character of Miss Lucy comes across as more sympathetic in the movie than in the book.
My criterion for a good movie is this: If it stays with me once I hit the sidewalk in front of the theater, rather than evaporating like smoke, well, that's a good movie. Never Let Me Go has stayed with me. The ending left me with a feeling that although these fictionalized characters were little more than lab rats, we all, in a sense, share a similar fate. Life is short, loss hurts, live and love while you can.
It rarely happens that I enjoy a movie adaptation more than the book on which it was based, but I would have to say that was the case here. Bravo.
I had read the book and loved it. But this movie isn't for just anyone. I went to the sneak preview last night and there are always people who go to ANY movie because it's free -- those people hated this movie. My rant is it is their responsibility to do a little homework about a movie -- don't just go because it's free! That said...what a beautiful film. The visuals are something you will remember, the acting is superb, the cast (the kids as the young students and the older kids), the horror of "the secret" and then the unveiling of the reason for "hope" they cling to. One of the best reasons to see this movie is that you will need to think about topics you have not ever grappled with before. Your memories and opinions of this movie should be haunting and unforgettable. It is not a happily-ever-after film and is quiet, slow, and deep. The music is wonderful. Think of this as a foreign film and go with that in mind.
"Never Let Me Go" is an interesting, haunting and affecting story of
love and jealousy. The story that we see occurring on the surface is
fairly commonplace of friends growing up together and falling in love.
But the backdrop of this film, which eventually takes over the main
story, is science fiction like. It's dark and tragic and
The world the film is set in is 1980s England and it looks very similar to the real world. But it's not our world and I had a hard time fully realizing all the characterizations for characters in a world that I don't quite know and understand. But it's just such a well done film that my interest was piqued and the story had me captivated, or at least curious, from beginning to end.
The film was incredibly well shot, making dreary England look spectacular but still getting the feeling of damp and cold across. It was also really well cast. The kids playing the younger versions of Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield looked and sounded just like them and were able to carry the beginning of the film. As others noted, Garfield also really stood out for me and his character moved me.
I recommend "Never Let Me Go" because of the high quality of film-making. The science fiction elements are rather subtle so it's more for fans of romantic dramas, but it's an interesting enough film that it can cross into most genres.
"Never Let Me Go" is one of the most distressing and depressing films
I've ever seen, so it's easy to imagine why this film, despite a wealth
of positive reviews, failed at the American box office so badly last
year. What people are missing, however, despite its grim subject matter
(including one of the most upsetting, yet profoundly moving endings
ever), is one of the most intelligent, thought-provoking, and
well-acted films in recent memory.
Music video director Mark Romanek has had a somewhat easy transition into the way of feature filmmaking (he made his debut in 2002 with the creepy Robin Williams thriller "One Hour Photo"), and "Never Let Me Go" is easily the director's best work. Screenwriter Alex Garland adapted Kazuo Ishiguro's novel of the same name, and the plot centers on three life-long best friends who are also wrapped up in a love triangle. Kathy (Carey Mulligan) loves Tommy (Andrew Garfield), but Tommy is currently engaged in a loveless relationship with their mutual friend Ruth (Keira Knightley, in what is easily her best and in my opinion, most tolerable performance yet).
Their tangled love affair is set against the backdrop of a revisionist history beginning in 1978 and ending in 1995, when the three are young children being raised at a prestigious boarding school called Hailsham somewhere on the English countryside. Over the course of their growing up together, they gradually learn the horrifying truth about the school and the grim significance of what their lives really mean in this world, because, as they also discover, their predetermined lives on this Earth will be short and they have very little time to understand each other and what life and love really mean.
To really describe the plot any further will be a great disservice to the true-to-life performances of this film's three daring young leads and the filmmakers. "Never Let Me Go" is a daring combination of heartfelt drama, romance, and dystopic science fiction. The latter film genre serves only as a backdrop and never once does the picture descend into pointless action scenes and special effects as a means for its characters to try to escape their fates, or ultimately responsibilities to the rest of humankind. (In fact, "Never Let Me Go" actually has more in common with Rob Reiner's 1986 comedy-drama "Stand by Be" than anything written by Philip K. Dick.) No, although these three characters have accepted the inevitably of their incredibly short lives, they are still determined to enjoy what time they have left together and that is the whole point of this powerful and emotionally-driven film.
Anyone who dismisses this film because of the negative reviews (yes, there were a few) saying it's too bleak and depressing are selling themselves short. They'd also be missing one of the most powerfully acted and ultimately moving films I've ever seen. They'd also be missing one of the greatest films of 2010, that's for sure, and that's the real tragedy of "Never Let Me Go": that so many people ignored such an incredibly great and brilliant film about life, love, and humanity.
Never Let This Film Go.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go opens with a scene of a woman staring at
a man on an operating table. She stares at him through a glass wall and
he stares back at her, a tear streaming down his cheek. It is moments
like these that work so well in Never Let Me Go, a dystopian science
fiction drama that is both tender and frightening all at once.
Romanek's haunting imagery combined with some great acting acting
really make this film work as a great adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's
still greater book of the same title. While the pacing may be a bit
uneven, a moving story with a purposeful emotional disconnection holds
together quite nicely on the silver screen.
Without saying too much, Never Let Me Go is a story about what it truly means to be humans. That does not mean that there are aliens involved, but there are other science fiction elements that are subtly blended with complex emotions. The story revolves around Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy, three children growing up at a school called Hailsham. Hailsham is bizarre in many ways, but the children simply take it as it is. The children eventually learn a nasty secret about themselves from a teacher. Ruth (Keira Knightley), Tommy (Andrew Garfield), and Kathy's (Carey Mulligan) lives change forever as they suddenly learn to live their lives differently. As they grow up together, they experience sex, sadness, and love in unexpected ways.
Mark Romanek, who is probably better known for his work on music videos, has made this film look sad and cold. The cinematography fulfills the book's sense of depression through images of repetition. One especially beautiful shot is the closing one in which two pieces of cloth lie tethered, almost trapped, on a barbed wire fence blowing in the wind. The film's beauty lies in its color palette, which leaves out all primary colors. Romanek said in interviews that he borrowed the color palette from the excellent 1968 British film If..., a fitting place to borrow from for this movie.
The acting from all three main actors is very good. The performances probably do not merit any Oscars, but they are still great to watch. Carey Mulligan shines for a second time here, although her performance is probably better in An Education. Andrew Garfield, a fairly new actor, does well as Tommy, playing his character with all the strange mannerisms that he had in the book. Look for Garfield in The Social Network. He definitely will be one to keep an eye on. Keira Knightley also is quite good as the conniving Ruth, although her performance is nowhere near as good as those of Garfield and Mulligan.
The pacing of the movie was its biggest problem. The middle of the movie inches along a bit too slowly, whereas the book moved at a constantly brisk pace. Though the movie should and did spend a little more time on character development, it spent a bit too much time and could have easily lost fifteen minutes. The plot of the book has also been presented out of order, with the major twist revealed a half hour into the film. This will strange for anyone who read the book, for it makes the character development very different.
Never Let Me Go is sad, depressing, and interesting in many ways. Though it is not bound for Oscar gold, it is brilliant in its quietness. It may not be enjoyed by people who have not read Ishiguro's brilliant book, but fans of the book will certainly appreciate Romanek's direction and the performances of Mulligan, Knightley, and Garfield. If any movie could make you sad for hours, it would be this one, so be prepared, and bring some tissues.
As Never Let Me Go shows, coming into a person's life can be even harder than letting go.
I class myself as a rough and ready kind of guy, drinking and spending
time with the lads down the local....leaving any comment on IMDb is
something i DON'T do......but let me just say that this film (only
watched because i was bored waiting for the football) blew me away. The
cast and everything was perfect..... a touching and heart breaking
story. This film deserves as much attention as many of the blockbusters
that have been and gone.
8 out of 10.....wow
I've been advised that my comments are too short so i must say more. So, as i would like to recommend this film to everyone i will continue. I don't want to mention much about the story as i feel its best watching knowing as little as poss....the characters will shine out and hopefully engross you....its not full of action etc but boy.....it will pack a punch. To be honest, it makes me feel more appreciative of my family and friends and what little time we have we them
As a fan of the book I had a mixed reaction to this adequate yet
overall uninspiring adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's brilliant novel.
Looking back at my viewing experience I was reminded of the early adaptation of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' from the earliest era of films, in which the filmmakers expected you to have read the book and simply showed you interpretations of various scenes.
Alex Garland's screenplay boasted the ambition of including a little bit of everything from Ishiguro's 300 page book in his slightly under two hour movie. The result is a simple abridgment, we have time to realize the love brewing between the characters, the strained friendship between Mulligan's Kathy and Knightley's Ruth, and the dilemma of their caregivers at Hailsham. But the film lacks much the catharsis and the commentary that made the book so great.
Romanek has proved himself to be a capable director, but here he made some negative decisions which really removed much of the impact of the plot. Adam Kimmel's cinematography is a stand out here, and given the competition so far I wouldn't be surprised if he receives an Oscar nomination for his work.
The calm collection and stoic nature of much of the acting can be seen as insipid or uninteresting to some. But I found the acting to be quite appropriate, the tight lipped, proper British style of this movie provided an nice contrast and balance to a story which could have turned into a mindless melodramatic tear jerker if not handled correctly.
In the end, I think active viewer-ship is of paramount importance to this movie. The film is never interested in simply handing the audience its ideas. Rather it called upon us to dig for meaning. I would say the plot itself served as a bit of a metaphor, and that intrigued me. And, despite some of the negative artistic liberties which were taken in this adaptation, I feel that it did well enough to create an involving, though provoking, and sometimes heartbreaking experience.
Despite its flaws, 'Never Let Me Go' has been one of the few strong film that we've had this year. And, if your one of those people who goes to the movies once or twice a month, I'd say 'Never Let Me Go' is one of your better bets for an agreeable experience at the movies right now.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I seriously feel as if a chunk of my brain fell off after watching this
movie. I believe it is due to how stupid the screenplay writer and
director think the viewers are (or they themselves might not be that
What's worse is to open IMDb and see some people raving about how great this movie is and how this makes you think the whole time. Yeah I think how long will this crap go on. And how stupid can these characters be.
We are to believe that after they learn their fate, their attempt to avoid it is just by asking for deferral?? And that when told there is no such thing they just scream in the middle of a street? A little study of Biology (I believe during my Junior High) mentioned that our survival instinct part of brain is the first to develop and the one that kicks in whenever we face problems. It's a field of study that I will suggest for the writers and director of this movie.
There is one scene so memorable in the movie (which is probably when the screenwriter wrote right after he got his lobotomy done). It's when they finished the 3rd organ harvesting of Ruth and she died. The doctors just pack up and left the room (instead of trying to revive her as what would happen in normal world) they tried to portray a message that these people are just like cattle and their life is just for the organs, but if that's true, won't they straight away try to harvest all other organs that can't be harvested without the person dying? (heart, lungs, corneas) we all, at least those with brain still know that those organs need to be harvested as fast as possible.
Sure the scenery is beautiful and the acting is pretty good and there is the yada and the blah blah like other reviewers said. But if you're looking for a movie that your brain can remotely comprehend (I'm talking to those that have basic education) then Never Pick This piece of steaming horse crap up.
I was in awe of the visual overtones in this gorgeously made film.
Deep, subtle, beautiful and cryptic--"Never Let Me Go" is sure to
instigate profound conversations after the screening. Like "Dead Man
Walking" (1995) and "Million Dollar Baby" (2004) there's a social
morale buried under this sumptuous love story.
The film follows the friendship of three children growing up in a tightly-secured boarding school in Britain, beginning in 1978. They are cutoff from the outside world; a life without a choice, but a life with a designated focus. The story spans almost three decades, following them from childhood to adulthood. The surroundings are ever constant, even though the film follows them for three decades.
I would love to reveal what these special individuals are modeled and raised for, but giving away that revelation wouldn't be fair to the viewers. I must say, it's a very unique premise; one that gives the audience a very improbable connection between images and content. "Never Let Me Go" struck a nerve. I felt for these characters, very deeply. I wanted them to realize what these young and loving individuals could've achieved in the world they grew up in. They were brainwashed into thinking they were isolated from everyone else, but in reality, there were no boundaries. They could've escaped from the life they were brought-up in and should've rebelled from the establishment. Angry, sad, sweet, longing, optimisticI love it when a film channels these ambivalent emotions and allows me to ponder about an alternate direction for the characters to venture into. If a film does that, then it must work.
After viewing this movie, I'm very curious about picking up the novel to see how the filmmakers translated the descriptions into these picturesque images. My guess is that the book is written on the same lines as "The Horse Whisperer"with deft metaphors and rich characterizations.
As much as I wanted closure to the narrative, I think the film does a great justice by leaving the audience in the dark. It gives the viewer more room to think, and it stimulates an array of intelligent inquiries. "Never Let Me Go" dares the viewer to look beyond the beautiful imagery and delicate character interrelationships, and discover a multitude of hidden meanings and themes. Above all, this is an exquisitely crafted tale about love, loss, individuality, and the boundaries of life.
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