Never Let Me Go review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro of the same name,‘Never Let Me Go’ is the second feature film of director Mark Romanek (‘One Hour Photo’), who was famous for working on music videos. This time, he takes on the subtlety of Ishiguro’s novel, about a group of children from a school called Hailsham and their inevitable future as adults.
Lush, quiet, and intense – that’s what director Mark Romanek is quite good at. Half of the film is set in Hailsham, an English boarding school, and you get the sense of safety within its confines but also a gut feel for something that’s not right. The young actors cast as the young versions of Kathy H, Ruth, and Tommy are spot-on. Their awe foreshadows their future selves’ equally stronger curiosity. Supporting cast includes Sally Hawkins and Charlotte Rampling as Hailsham teachers, acting with authority and at the same time restraint. They are the secret keepers of what Hailsham is all about and why the kids ‘study’ there, after all.
‘Never Let Me Go’ utilizes its main cast: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield – all young stars but with the confidence of experienced actors, their chemistry and conflict as the troubled and searching trio make for quiet and extreme drama. Knightley downplays the meanness, Mulligan portrays the weak but strong resolve, and Garfield exudes the fragility (an offshoot of his acting in ‘Boy A’.)
I have read the novel before seeing ‘Never Let Me Go’ so I was not surprised at what it’s about and what it wants to say. For me it’s a study of one’s existence. Quite philosophical sure, but really, it’s a film that’s thought-provoking, that lets you decide on the value of human life. Questions will be raised. Answers will be given albeit unsatisfactorily. Yet what happens in the lives of Kathy H. (Mulligan), Ruth (Knightley), and Tommy (Garfield) – before and after Hailsham – will always be cloaked in mystery. You may want to grab a copy of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel for more clarity. It might help you in some way.