Never Let Me Go (2010) Poster

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10/10
Beautiful, profound, moving
Dick Sanders10 October 2010
Warning: 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 not?

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.
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8/10
Excellent cinematic adaptation
lauralmhs25 October 2010
Warning: 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 second chance.

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.
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10/10
"Never Let Me Go" - Never Let Go of this film...
dee.reid5 March 2011
"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.

10/10
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7/10
I can't stop thinking about scenes in this movie!
fifibelle5 October 2010
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.
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10/10
Requires a whole lotta Kleenex, this one.
kaaber-28 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Actually, I detest science fiction. In the worst of cases, the make-believe worlds of the authors are so contrived that the dialogue is rendered idiotic because the characters have to explain their own everyday universe to each other so the audience can follow it.

So what was a great relief to me about "Never Let Me Go" was that it was science fiction without the science. Not a word is breathed about how the clones are made. Ishiguro's (or, for that matter, filmmaker Romanek's) errand is not to blame science or society at all. The story is purely existentialistic. The tragedy is not so much the shortness of the young people's lives, as the fact that they manage to ruin them with passivity and jealousy.

Based on another novel from Ishiguro about people who give up their lives to serve others (his breakthrough was "Remains of the Day"), "Never Let Me Go" is also a story without villains. It's like a merciless Greek drama, leading our characters to their inevitable end. 'This brief tragedy of flesh', as Emily Dickinson would have it.

The true tragedy in the film is that of Ruth (Keira Knightley), who, out of fear of being the one left out, steals Kathy's (Mulligan's) boyfriend. For some reason, Knightley's performance moved me to tears. Literally. And I'm not easy.

But, that said, the acting is brilliant all over; Mulligan, Garfield, and yet another reunion with Charlotte Rampling whose career has soared in recent years.
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8/10
wow
BabyFace260615 January 2011
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
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10/10
Well crafted and seriously will strike a chord
aritra dutta9 August 2012
A novel of this genre is really difficult for film adaptation, its a difficult subject to project on as it has pain from start to end.Life is like that some moments we cherish some moments makes us cry,we laugh we cry,we celebrate we console,we fall in love we break it up and ultimately we end up on a sad note as we die.That's the hardest truth.Well projected by the film.The subject of the film is not for everyone or every mood.It's not an entertainment grosser its a film about life,true love,jealousy,anger,helplessness,pain and courage.

I will not mention individually about the actors performances as they all have equally done brilliant.Though a special mention should definitely go to the actors playing young Kathy,Ruth and Tommy.The music of the film is just awesome,the screenplay couldn't have been more better.I enjoyed the silent scenes too giving my imaginations to think for something. Really a great film.
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8/10
I Sing the Body Electric
alexart-19 October 2010
Warning: 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.
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9/10
Never Let Me Go is a devastatingly beautiful film.
technofunkie18 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
It is not often that you come home from a film feeling both defeated and genuinely happy. While these would appear to be contradicting emotions, that is exactly how I felt coming from Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go. The film, written by Alex Garland and based on the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro, is beautiful and emotionally devastating at the same time. The film opens in the 1970's, focusing on the lives of three school children in an English private school. Although at first sight the setting appears normal enough, we quickly discover these are not normal children, as they exist solely to have their organs harvested once they become adults. Never Let Me Go seamlessly combines period drama and science fiction. The alternative reality we are shown is never fully explained nor needs to be. The film is purely about the three main characters: Kathy, Tommy and Ruth. It is the film's deep focus on the emotions and personalities of the characters that makes it fascinating. The world they live in is simply there--reality for them--no explanations needed. A film as personal as this relies heavily on the actors; and without their strong performances the film would have fallen flat. An Education's Carrie Mulligan stars as Abbie, a girl who does not act but rather observes. Andrew Garfrield plays Tommy, who Kathy has been in love with since they were children. Keira Knightley is provides the most surprising performance as Ruth, who jealously falls for Tommy. Fortunately, no one disappoints, in fact, they all exceed expectations. As these characters are shielded from normalcy, the performances we get portray them as innocents. This is especially true of Andrew Garfield, who plays Tommy as a naive, innocent teenager who wants nothing more than to live longer than he is programmed to. It is his performance that stands out, it is understated, but still emotionally heart wrenching. The difficulty in reviewing this film for me comes from the emotional impact it had. Many films will tug at the heart strings, manipulating the audience into feeling a sadness that is not real. This film does not manipulate, it has a genuine sadness at its core that leaves you devastated. No film has left me on the verge of tears as much as this one has. In an age of formulaic films, it is utterly refreshing to see something so genuine on screen, even though the characters' situations are foreign to the audience. Alex Garland has often been criticized for his inability to write logical conclusions to his films. While I personally don't agree with that, Never Let Me Go proves that wrong. The final act of the film doesn't try to trick us into feeling for the characters as we already do. The characters reunite after years apart from each other; now, closer to the end, they spend what could be their last days together. There is no twist to the film, it ends exactly how we know it will, and that is where the sadness comes from. We know the fates of these characters, and the films' focus is on their struggle to accept their fate just as we have had to. Mark Romanek is a veteran music video director, and Never Let Me Go is only his second feature film, although you wouldn't know it. Romanek shows a maturity and patience behind the camera that is not only rare for young filmmakers but for veteran ones as well. His use of focus leads to one of the most beautifully shot films of the year, if not the most. Never Let Me Go is without a doubt my favourite film of the year, so far. It had the emotional impact that I usually judge a film's quality on. The fact it is not being talked about more is truly a bewildering shame. I fear it will be forgotten, as dramas that do not garner Oscar attention usually do.
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10/10
Almost Perfect Adaptation
Brent Trafton10 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Never Let Me Go," is an almost perfect adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel but it is going to have a hard time finding an audience because it is slow, sad, and depressing.

I had finished the book 2 weeks before I saw the movie, so the story was fresh in my mind. I think that it really helps to read the book first because it fills in a lot of the gaps that are missing in the movie.

Even if you haven't read the book, the film is still worth seeing for the performances of Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Keira Knightly.

The only reason the film does not rate a perfect 10 is that in the scene where they are trying to get a "deferral" from Madame, they left out what is probably the most important part of the story.

In that scene in the book, Madame explains to them that the boarding school they went to was paid for by donations and fund raising so that they could be brought up like normal people. Before that, the clones were brought up in concentration camps and treated inhumanly. The whole point of that scene was that Madame and a few others were willing to make great sacrifices because they believed the clones had all the same rights and sentience as all other humans, while the rest of the world thought of them as livestock that were being bred for consumption.

Even though that scene was left out of the film, the final line in the film alludes to the same message and it is a real tearjerker.

Don't be fooled into thinking "Never Let Me Go" is a science fiction movie. It is not. It is a human drama with a science fiction premise. This is not like "Logan's Run" and it really does not go into the details of the science behind the premise. It is a sad and melancholy story about the human condition. If you go into it knowing what to expect, it is highly recommended.
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