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Never Let Me Go
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Reviews & Ratings for
Never Let Me Go More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Give me your blood.

Author: jjnoahjames ( from United States
9 March 2011

NLMG is a dramatic film about love and the future. Something in the future. That's all we really need to know. Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth all grow up together as we watch the complicacy of their lives.

Mulligan, Garfield, and Knightly all going beyond expectation here. They fit the back drop well as the story grows into a beautiful discovery about humanity.

The cinematography is excellent and so is the directing. The only flaw here is the speed of the film, but sometimes a slower pace is better, and this is a perfect example.

I have to say I wish Never was just a little bit more dynamic so I could give it a ten, but fatefully some movies just aren't 10's and they don't need to be. You won't forget the message of Never Let Me Go.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

For me it was not a good movie

Author: annaD from Romania
22 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First of all I should explain myself. I do enjoy bleak and depressing novels which are well written. The same goes for movies...hey, I enjoyed "The Road" a lot. But this... this has absolutely no redeeming qualities what so ever. OK OK, I get the final point: no amount of time spent on this earth will seem like enough, regardless if you die at 20, 30 or 100. But the way it chooses to make this point is almost...stupid. This movie is filled with stupidity (I did not read the book, but I don't think it is too far away from the movie).

First the plot: medical discovery 1960, people now leave 100 years. Then we have three little kinds(the main protagonists) Ruth, Kathy and Tommy, in some English boarding school. OK. Then we find out that the boarding school is in fact an incubator for future organ donors (human body parts). They will be expected to "complete" by the age of 30. Then the love triangle: Kathy and Tommy love each other, but Ruth steals Tommy and remain together. I did not understand how that happened...did she blackmail him, did she threaten him? Because as the movie progresses you see that they really want to be together, but to me it was not obvious what was keeping them from trying.

The donor part was on one side frightening...that is why I gave this movie a 3. I sort of liked the dark and melancholic atmosphere. The acting was not awful either. But that is as far as go with compliments. I do not know why I watched the entire movie. I keep hoping I would see some blink of humanity in it (the was more humanity in "The Road" and that had cannibals in it, so come on people). There was nothing that resembled human behavior. No one had a problem with sacrificing people. It seems it was OK, because they were clones (it was never said only implied). And the donors didn't have a problem with that either. They accepted their faith as if that was the most noble thing they could do. Who behaves like that? Who?

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Good performances in a profoundly unconvincing and misleadingly advertised tale

Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
18 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is not possible for me to make fair comment on Never Let Me Go without extensively spoilering. So, if you are keen on going to see the movie on the basis of a trailer which indicates a slightly dated and very English love triangle between two girls and a boy which follows them from boarding school to adulthood, and you don't wish to know anything else about the film beforehand, then stop reading now. Because the trailer completely misrepresents this movie.

It is not a romantic drama. It is science fiction.

Now, I don't have a problem with going to see a movie believing it's going to be one thing, and then finding out it is something completely different, as long as the movie itself works. And the problem with Never let Me Go is that it doesn't, but I don't know whether the reason lies with Kazuo Ishiguro's original novel or the adaptation. It doesn't really matter, however.

The mildly "off" flavour which comes through from the trailer is because this isn't actually the England we know. This is a parallel England of a few years ago, where it appears that nothing digital exists - everything is lower tech than we are familiar with. In this parallel word there is a breeding programme for living transplant donors, and the school at which the three protagonists meet and grow up is specifically for such donors. So, yes, there is a 3-cornered romance running through the film, but the heart of the story is what becomes of these three individuals whose fate is to be carved up to keep other people alive.

I had a big problem with this film, because I was never able to fully take on board the central dilemma as a realistic one. Are these specially bred donors people or not? This world, so very like the world I know, assumes they aren't. It is revealed at the end that the three main characters have misunderstood a key element, which is actually there to try to determine whether they have souls or not: to me it seemed self evident that they were proper, genuine people in every way which mattered, and the moral dilemma of whether or not it was right to cut them to pieces for the benefit of others was one which was so obvious that it need never have been addressed in the first place. Placed in a totalitarian regime, I could have suspended my disbelief (viz. The Island). Here, where they were allowed free rein subject to electronic ID tags, I simply could not accept that this was a realistic world in which these events could happen.

And that's a shame, because there is potential in the idea, and the performances were generally good (with Carey Mulligan standing out). Sadly, however, I have to class this as a failure.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

How unkind of some reviewers, how exaggerated praise from others.

Author: Tzctimdb from United Kingdom
14 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The people that are deriding as boring this movie are wrong, of course, but have got a point: the plot is slow to develop, the tranquillity of the film will grate the wrong way with some people and it is understandable that some may become exasperated by it.

But many people would say that a sunny summer afternoon, sitting in a place with a nice view, doing nothing but contemplating the landscape is boring. Nothing wrong with that, but that is what these people mean about the movie being boring, as everything, boredom is in the eye of the beholder, and in this case some beholders are too impatient.

But do beware of the people saying this is a marvel of a movie. it isn't, and the problem are the gaping holes in the plot.

What would give this movie an edge in regards to a full blown melodrama is the reference to Sci-Fi elements, but unfortunately these are touched so casually that in undermines the whole thing.


We are led to believe that people (are they people? that would be the first question left unanswered) that by all appearances are thinking and functional, that clearly despair about their mandated fate (By whom? How?) do nothing but meekly ask for a short reprieve from a bureaucrat that surely they know is a minor peg in the overall machinery that mandates their fate? People have started revolutions for far less. By not telling us more about this inhumane condition the film is found wanting and undermines itself. You can suspend disbelief, sometimes to great lengths, but this constant distopyan teasing without throwing us one or two bones is infuriating, and inevitably rests weight from the matters the film is really trying to address.

I thought that at the end Carey Mulligan's character would have the last laugh against the system and use that tree, where she reminisces about her short life, to keep to herself those precious organs she has been raised to "donate".

But she doesn't and here is a shining example of a subtle but fundamental contradiction in the plot: that in spite of the attempts of their teachers to probe that the donors actually have "souls" (Really? Souls? Was all what they were concerned about? Is that a theocracy? Again most questions unanswered...) the donors have no recognisable aspirations.

So what is it? The boy screaming in despair or the carer signing a form? By not making its mind, the film fails to deliver its message, in spite of good acting and impeccable cinematography.

Lose the plot and you lose the movie.

Nevertheless this is a gallant failure, it is an adult movie for adult audiences, a rarity nowadays for which we should be grateful (remember who gets bored during complicated movies and who the film industry is trying to please when movies are not "boring"...).

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:


Author: Jennumber1 from United Kingdom
13 January 2011

To be honest, I'm not too sure about this one. I was intrigued by it, I wanted to know where it was going, and it did keep me interested enough to watch until the end.

Keira Knightley as Ruth was a surprising choice, yet her under-stated performance was convincing.

The huge injustice that this film described seemed all the more terrible because of the compliance of its victims, but although the cast as a whole played their parts well the lack of any real storyline meant they hadn't got much to work with. I felt that so much more could have been done with the subject, instead we were treated to a sort of documentary of their lives.

By the end of the film I was feeling disappointed - I suppose I was expecting a little bit more than it delivered.

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11 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Give me strength...

Author: sarastro7
4 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tell me, is there anything more boring than a story that you have essentially seen done better many times before, which painstakingly slowly just keeps going exactly where you know it will be going? I was very disappointed with The Island (2005), but compared to Never Let Me Go, it was a near masterpiece. Okay, I admit Never Let Me Go has good actors and good production values, but that's where my praise ends. This is a movie which is trying to sell a many decades old science fiction idea to mainstream audiences by wrapping it in a mainstream package. And like trained monkeys, those mainstream audiences go "oooh!" and "wow!" in response. I went "argh!", and was deeply, deeply bored.

The big element that absolutely cannot be believed about this concept is that they would give these organ donors any semblance of ordinary lives. Why? Why?? In The Island they at least provided a very poor and insufficient explanation, but here there was none at all.

For those interested in science fiction who would like to read a good treatment of this idea, I direct you to the 1987 comic book, "World of Krypton" by John Byrne and Mike Mignola. Here, of course, they do the only right thing (and it's just a casual and logical element of the story): keeping the extra bodies completely comatose from birth, never letting them have personalities or consciousness of their own. Anything else is utterly ridiculous and would never be perpetrated by any remotely ethical authorities.

2 out of 10.

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12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

I remember reading a very different book

Author: Shahriman AMS from Bangladesh
8 January 2011

I read the novel some three years ago, so may be my memory failed me here - but I remember reading a very different novel. The novel had an air of mystery surrounding Hailsham, Hailsham was almost like a character in its own right. What is Hailsham? Or the Gallery? Who is madam? Why Cathy, Ruth and Tommy's lives are the way they are? Are they orphans? Are they part of an experiment? The questions are innumerable - and Ishiguro keeps them suspended until the very end. The mystery unraveled slowly, the truth didn't emerge fully until the last pages. And once it did, the result was crashing, devastating. The book doesn't even pretend to answer all the ethical and philosophical question it raises (which, by the way, is a hallmark of Ishiguro).

The film, on the other hand, was a listless affair. It remains insular to the end, the drama never picks up and fails to evoke a paralytic affliction as the book does. Hailsham didn't get enough importance, the relationship between the three main characters was downplayed. Mr. Romanek's interpretation of the book appears to be archetypal and he ended up attempting a tear-jerker (albeit, with little success).

The film had some stylistic choices, all of which didn't sit well with me. For instance, it was populated with numerous inserts of bird, trees, bushes and whatnot. Now from a narrative point of view, they didn't seem to carry any significance. While they looked pretty and helped to control the pacing of the film to some extent, personally I think they were unnecessary. Then there is the voice-over. The fact that it was there is enough to raise controversy. The way Mr. Romanek used it, it was a waste. Cathey's voice did not convey the slightest emotion which definitely was intentional, and a bad choice.

The use of shallow DOF comes with its downside, as the subject of interest is always at a risk of going out of focus. But in this case, the trade-off was necessary. The film mixes static camera footages with some hand-held shots in places. This, if well-intended, didn't achieve its purpose. These, and a number of other shots in my opinion, had a music video-ish look not suitable for the mood of the film.

If I'm allowed a bit of indulgence, I'd like to quickly rate the key people: Mark Romanek (direction): 0 (failure to make good choices, failure to direct the child actors, failure to create a gripping narrative) Adam Kimmel (cinematography): 5 (for the whole look of the film, especially the way he shot the lonely buildings, sky, rain, sea and the sense of deep melancholy created by them) Mark Digby (production design): 5 (absolutely impeccable) Andrew Garfield (acting - Tommy): 4 (although I think he is better in The Social Network) Music was just the way it should have been and the costume department did a marvelous job too.

To those of you who liked the book, or are planning to read the book (which I think you definitely should), I strongly recommend not watching the film. You are sure to be disappointed.

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23 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Rubbish film, rubbish screenplay, waste of two hours

Author: Menashe Smith from United States
4 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Probably the worst screenplay and story of 2010. So it's the 21st or 22nd century and young people's organs are harvested and there's a love story. Wow. So deep. Like, WTF????? I don't mind that the concept doesn't make any sense at all (there are plenty of SciFi movies which are great) .... but the entire "oh we're so sad" English BS is just over the top. Really. Waste of 120 minutes of my life that we'll never be back. Very shallow love story, boring soundtrack, and simply super-annoying screenplay. Yikes.

I think I'll limit my Keira Knightly movies only to those where she's topless, at least then it's not a complete waste of time.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Avoid this

Author: Heinrich Faust from Greenland
2 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is very sick film. Usually I would never write a BAD review - if I didn't like the movie or the game I would just leave it be - it's far better to use my time to praise some really good works than to bash the unsuccessful ones.

But I'll make an exception for this movie - this is just how bad it is. I can hardly even imagine why I must give it even one point? OK, maybe operator work was decent enough, main cast did their job well and it was some feel of horrible dystopia there. That's it. But none of these factors compensate the fails of plot and story.

And let's not even begin that I didn't get the "message" of this story. Oh, I got it pretty well. Clones are people too, they have souls, the society (shown in the film) is very ill and is an actual allegory to our own society and its possible future. Nothing new, nothing original, NOTHING, that would make you think, the movie is created to make you disgusted by said society for the sake of making you disgusted. Shock for shocking. And then of course there is the worst element of them all - the theme of "acceptance" of their own fate, "sacrifice" and "non-resistance". Sounds pretty good but implementation is just below LOW. Nothing is properly explained, and this isn't the case where "you should make your own judgment" because no judgment here will make any sense. All characters seem to have a kind of lobotomy in the early age. Yet they have some normal emotions, they can love, hate and envy, but they would just never resist the system for apparently no reason at all. They don't want to die, but they won't even try to run or hide despite they are FREE TO MOVE. And all these nonsense is happening in an incredibly slow pace.

All in all, I don't now what was more disgusting to me - the System of that dystopian society, the main Character, who calmly watched the "killing" process of her beloved, or the creator of this embarrassment, who stole 2 hours of my life.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Disquieting and Unresolved

Author: AZINDN from United States
8 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A film that is at its heart so sad and bleak, Never Let Me Go provides a haunting reality that remains with one after the credits roll. Tommy (Andrew Garfield), Kathy, and Ruth grew up together in a school which raised humans for transplantation of vital organs when they entered young adulthood. Set in the ahistorical now, the trio grows up and apart, all the while engaged within a non-eventful world of existing to donate and "complete." Kathy (Carrie Mulligan) joins the ranks of the "carers," the responsible adult who awaits the return of the donor from surgical extraction of some body part, and tries to ease their transition to their inevitable end. After ten years, she again is reunited with Ruth (Kiera Knightly), who has not demonstrated the kind of heartiness the system would like in donors, and is likely to succumb with her next extraction. Together, Ruth and Kathy find Tommy who still remains the love interest of Kathy, and who Ruth had intentionally tried to separate as a precocious teen. Now, in her waning time, she apologizes to the couple for stepping into their true love relations many years past. Reconncilled and resolute to her finality, Ruth's death on the operating table is both gruesome and devoid of any heroic measures. She flatlines and is disposed.

Never Let Me Go is unsettling in its quiet storyline that is both horrific and accepting of science and a society that regulated organ transplantation. Growing beings as future resources for medical reasons is an ethical dilemma which modern society addresses with moralizing religious rhetoric, but in this film, that emotionalism is thankfully absented. The only question that is asked is whether the Hallsham students possessed a "soul" that could be detected in the children's art. Yet this point is never fully explained until well into the film which adds to the richness of the storyline. To eliminate disease in society through the use of body parts becomes more than an ethical issue today, it is a moral quandary which Never Let Me Go puts forth with disquieting non-resolution. One quandary not discussed remains that of organ transplants for children. Were the youngest members of civilized society as depicted also served by farm-raised youngsters, or were only adults the recipients? Who were the carers for baby donors until their completion?

A film that draws mature performances from the youthful cast, Mulligan and Knightly are excellent casting choices and put aside the physical beauty they are noted for to bringing a credibility and pathos to their performances. Andrew Garfield as Tommy is the sole male between the two women who he has loved since childhood. His is a role that is both restrained all the while sublimating the rage of his existence. This is a film that stands alone without necessitating a read of the novel, a format that is not necessary for appreciation of the work by a subtle director and aided by another beautiful musical score by Rachael Portman. Adult, small, and evocative, Never Let Me Go wraps itself around your conscience and draws its themes before the public with successful irritation.

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