Monday, 30 January 2012

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go is a stunning film. I found it both extremely sinister and extraordinarily poignant - a remarkable combination. The best film I saw in 2011 was The King's Speech, but it will take something quite dazzling to make a greater impact on me this year than Never Let Me Go.

The film is based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro, which I haven't read, and the screenplay by Alex Garland is, as I gather from what I've read, pretty faithful to the original, although the secret of Hailsham School, where two young girls and a boy become friends, is revealed quite early on. A few critics have complained that the film is too bleak, or too slow, and it seems that it wasn't quite as commercially successful as may have been expected. But no matter. I think it is a film that will last, because it is a subtle yet very true exploration of fundamentals of human nature.

A great deal is left unsaid, and that can sometimes be irritating. But not here. Any thoughtful viewer will be interested in trying to fill in the gaps. This is not a "crime" film, and I doubt whether it's very useful to think of it mainly in sci-fi terms either, but the way in which suspense is built and maintained impressed me.

I've avoided saying much about the storyline, because I don't want to spoil it. But the actors deserve great praise. Carey Mulligan (even better here than she was in a smaller role in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which I enjoyed over the Christmas break) conveys pathos and decency superbly. Andrew Garfield, as Tommy, the doomed boy she loves, is highly charismatic, while Keira Knightley is good too, despite finding it difficult to look unattractive when her character faces "completion".

I'll remember this film for a long time, and also think hard about its messages. I recommend it unreservedly.

8 comments:

kathy d. said...

Have not seen this and it sounds a bit too over the top for me.

But Carey Mulligan is an incredible actress. She was amazing in An Education, playing off Peter Skarsgaard's cad.

seana said...

Thanks, Martin. I didn't know about this one, but have now added it to the list.

Deb said...

Like you, I'll try to avoid spoilers when I make my comment, but (potential spoiler) my problem with both the book and the movie is this: Why are the children being raised to be educated and refined, given their ultimate destination? Because (to my mind) no adequate explanation was given for the children's environment, I'm afraid I lost interest in the story-although, I do agree, that the suspense is built very subtlely in the film.

Juxtabook said...

Isn't it the most disturbingly engaging watch? In some ways I hated every moment but I'll always be glad I've seen it as Carey Mulligan was so brilliant and it is just so thought provoking. I have read the book, and unusually I prefer the film, the books is just too bleak for words.

Hannah Dennison said...

I have added Never Let Me Go to my list. Thanks for the recommendation! There is always so much out there it's often hard to make choices.

Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks for your comments - hastily read while on the high seas, but appreciated as ever!

books said...

I just watched this film it was interesting and visually attractive. There was also some Bexhill scenes (where I live) and Clevedon Pier (near where I used to live).

I thought it was well acted but it was lacking something - like the author hadn't really considered the full implications of what was going on. Or perhaps the possibilities. Although I enjoyed it is doesn't measure up to The Children of Men - which had a similar feel to it (and also featured Bexhill)

This was an interesting film despite some of it's faults.

I did side against it briefly when I read some of the book reviews and Sc-Fi was described as a pop genre and they decided a serious author would only write in a pop genre to subvert it's boundaries. I think that seriously rubbed me up the wrong way (they wouldn't have said that about the PD James book):

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/17/books/review/17KERRL.html?_r=1

Seth

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Books - thanks for this comment. I didn't know either of those movies were filmed in Bexhill - long time since I was last there, but I have pleasant memories of it. I did prefer this film to Children of Men, I must say, especially in the focus on the human/clone issues, which I found fascinating and indeed moving. Though crime is my main thing, I do like good sci-fi as a change.