If you have read Kazuo Ishiguro’s book, “Never Let Me Go,” you should know what to expect. The film is a faithful adaptation of the book. If not, brace yourself for an achingly compelling and subtle film.
“Never Let Me Go” is a science-fiction story, but it does not feel like a sci-fi story at all. The story follows Kathy H (Carey Mulligan) and her two friends, Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield). They grow up at Hailsham, a boarding school in the English countryside, where they are taken care of and told that they are special. Hailsham is very bleak, and that’s the first clue as to what is really going on. The children are given role-playing exercises and are told horrible stories so they do not think of leaving the grounds. Also, they have to follow a strict regimen and remain as healthy as possible.
Because they are so young, they do not understand what their life’s purpose is. However, one of their teachers finally gives them a taste of the truth, which leads to her immediate dismissal. Kathy, a natural “carer,” falls for her friend, Tommy, at a young age. Before any romance can come from it, Ruth moves in on Tommy, stopping the soul mates from being together. As time goes on, Kathy chooses to separate from Ruth and Tommy. She becomes a successful “carer,” when most of the others her age have already started their donations. She eventually reunites with Ruth and Tommy, and more questions start to get answered.
The moments between Kathy and Tommy are bittersweet and well played by both sets of actors. Mulligan’s eyes showed so much emotion and heartbreak. Garfield played the very spirited and emotional Tommy perfectly. Knightley played a different type of character very well with Ruth, conveying envy, spite, and later guilt.
Despite that it is a British film, Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) is an American director. He creates a calm and sad tone. Even though we know the characters’ fates, his style brings out the emotion more. However, the intention is not only to feel sad and cry, but to think about and discuss the characters and their situation. Could our world ever do such a thing if capable? This film is only one scenario of many.
“Never Let Me Go” will open in limited release on September 24th. Its wide release is on October 8th.