NEVER LET ME GO (Dir. Mark Romanek, 2010)
The set-up for this film based on the best selling book by Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro: a trio of young students (Keira Knightly, Carrey Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield) growing up in a English boarding school discover they are clones grown for the sole purpose of organ donation.
The school is called Hailsham and in ominous gray tones we find these youngsters – at first played by Ella Purnel, Izzy Meikle-Small, and Charlie Rowe – in a love triangle that lasts until their later teenage years.
Knightly and Garfield pair up while Mulligan is left out. Another couple in their new living quarters they are moved to after their school years called “The Cottages” tell the trio about a rumor that lovers might be granted a stay of execution for several years into their adulthood.
The story is told in flashback from the point of view of Mulligan who after “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” you’d think was all cried out.
But no, there’s plenty here to make her all misty eyed. Especially when things takes tragic turns. The icy cold Charlotte Rampling as Hailsham’s headmistress has harsh answers to the kid’s questions – ignore the trailers if you don’t want spoilers about that.
It’s an affecting and haunting film in many respects. Romanek’s imagery is bleak but purposeful and the performances hit the right unrestrained notes.
Garfield, who can also be seen at a theater near you in THE SOCIAL NETWORK and will be a household name in the next few years as the new Spiderman, uses his angsty shakiness to his advantage while Knightly overcomes her previous performances’ emptiness nicely.
It’s Mulligans movie however, and she owns it. Her refined acting matched with the stirring score by Rachel Portman elevates the movie’s emotional core.
The sci-fi elements of the screenplay are at a minimum so it’s easy to buy this poignant premise and savor the sad soulfulness on display.
NEVER LET ME GO may be too somber and strained for some folks, but it got under the skin of this reviewer.