Impeccable, Melancholy, Chilly Film About Mortality
Starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley, Never Let Me Go (2010) is a faithful adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed dystopian novel. Among the words that come to mind to describe this film are languid, restrained and understated. But it is exquisitely acted, superbly crafted and contains provocative ideas.
The story is set in an alternate reality version of England where a medical breakthrough led to a system greatly extending human life span. The film's first half-hour takes place in 1978 at Hailsham, a boarding school that is rather like an orphanage. Among the students at Hailsham are the three central characters at about age 12 and played in the movie by child actors. The film's second section is set in 1985 at a rural facility known as The Cottages, where the residents include the three main characters, now around 18 or 19 and portrayed by Mulligan, Garfield and Knightley. In this part of the movie a love triangle develops. The third section of the film takes place in 1994, and the three central characters, now about 27, are seen fulfilling the roles that their society requires of them. But one of the three main characters recognizes she has wronged the other two and tries to make amends as the story winds down to its bleak ending.
Never Let Me Go is a melancholy meditation on what it means to be human and how we face mortality. For some viewers, the film will simply be tedious and depressing. But for those who are receptive, the movie is haunting, rewarding and thought-provoking.
The Never Let Me Go DVD contains about 37 minutes of video extras, and if you admired the feature film, they are all worth seeing.
The major offering is the half-hour-long "The Secrets of Never Let Me Go," a making-of documentary that gives you a chance to hear from the three principal actors, director Mark Romanek, screenwriter Alex Garland and novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.
There are also three short featurettes, all of them slideshows that run two to three minutes each. One of the featurettes consists of black-and-white still photos shot on set by the director. Another shows strange artworks that are purported to have been created by Andrew Garfield's character. The third is made up of posters, some aimed at getting the general public to support Hailsham through financial contributions, while others urge kids like those at Hailsham to eat healthy and get lots of exercise.
DVD Release Date: February 1, 2011
Total Runtime: 1 hour 44 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Some Sexuality and Nudity