10/9/2010 Never Let Me Go is based on an acclaimed novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, whose book The Remains of the Day was also adapted into a film in 1993. Though both films are miles apart in terms of plot, they share the same themes of people living prescribed lifestyles being led to believe that their lives have some sort of greater purpose while sacrificing their own hopes and desires. They are two of the saddest films I have seen. This film opens at a British boarding school in an alternate 1978 which seems like any other boarding school might. We soon realize that this is far from the truth, and that the students are being groomed to be vital organ donors. Most will make three donations and die by the time they are in their early 30s. Of these students, we follow Kathy (Carey Mulligan) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) who both vie for the affections of Tommy (Andrew Garfield). The story follows these three as they gradually move towards that dreaded and inevitable third donation. The film is directed by Mark Romanek and beautifully shot in pastels of the British countryside. Mulligan, who shined in An Education, brings depth and humanity to her role and the always lovely Knightley plays her rival and pulls off what is a difficult role. Newcomer Andrew Garfield, who starred in no less than three great films this year, finds the right notes as the naive and awkward Tommy. The filmmakers and actors draw us into these characters lives as they inevitably travel towards their predestined ends. This is one of the year's best films.
**** out of ****
5/10/16 I rewatched Mark Romanek's film having read Ishiguro's novel since and surprisingly it's effect hasn't diminished, having still found it a somber, moving, beautifully filmed, and powerfully acted piece. Rachel Portman's score adds much and Alex Garland's screenplay sublimely underscores the subtleties and nuances of the book.
**** out of ****