Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review: Never Let Me Go

After waiting for almost a month for Never Let Me Go to hit a theatre near me,  I finally got to climb into the ghetto, beer/cigarette theatre in my college town (which I love by the way), and take a glimpse at Mark Romanek's brave attempt at adaptating Kazuo Ishiguro's masterful novel.

And in almost every way he clearly succeeds. Never Let Me Go is a solemn and depressing, yet moving, well-acted, and well-made movie that captures the terror, emptiness, and emotional content of its source work.

As the story slowly unravels (I don't want to give any spoilers away, but kind of have to), we start to see that our three protagonists are part of a large scientific experiment that creates clones that are only used as donors to save other individuals from diseases such as cancer and heart disease. That is the science fiction framework that encompasses the story. But this has to be the most subtle sci-fi film I have ever seen.  The point of this story has little to do with the the premise or the ending; we know these characters were built to die. The point is the journey from the yards of the school that bred these individuals to be healthy and be protected for their purpose in life, to the agony of being a teenager, as just when you start to feel love, lust, freedom, you know that your time is almost up. These characters are seemingly stuck in childhood, never really experiencing the real world, and holding on to childish fantasies in the name of hope.

The acting in this picture is absolutely fantastic. Carey Mulligan proves that even in silence she has a star quality that will continue her career as a leading lady in Hollywood. Kiera Knightly was incredible as the jealous, and vindictive Ruth, then remorseful, showing a layered and bruised character. For me though, the real talent her is Andrew Garfield. After seein The Social Network, I questioned whether it was a one-time thing. But his childish, and hopefull Tommy shows emotional depth, curiousity, and the anger and pain of having so little time to live shows just how great an actor he already is, and hopefully he will start to get some bigger roles to showcase his talent (Spiderman is a start).

It is also extremely well made in terms of its technical aspects, particualrly its beautiful cinematography, art direction, and music, which hopefull will get some recognition come Oscar time.

However, it is easy to see why critics and audiences have not fallen in love with this movie. There are no real moments of joy, it is slow-paced, and at times can be distant. However, I feel that these were the effects that Romanek was going for, despite how they can sometimes linger just a little too long, or distance themselves just a little too much for my taste.

Despite that, Never Let Me Go is an emotional and beautiful move that presents some fine performances, and reminds all of how precious life is, particularly when you know it is going to end. It is an important film worth putting on your watch list for this Fall.

Oscar Potential: It will probably get drowned up in the Oscar season, although it definitely could be a contender if some of the bigger, unseen contenders fall. It's technical aspects definitley have a shot no matter what happens in the bigger but Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress/Actor, Cinematography, Original Score, and Art Direction are all possibilties.

Grade: B+

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