As children, Ruth, Kathy and Tommy spend their childhood at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. As they grow into young adults, they find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them.Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
"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.
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