Never Let Me Go - DVD Review

'aches over past lives and wrought wrongs which have influenced eternities'

Honest and upfront about difficult relationships in the same way that Blue Valentine was earlier in the year, Never Let Me Go is a minimalist, science-fiction inflected take on the age old love triangle. Directed with restraint and patience by Mark Romanek, the film spends time aching over past lives and wrought wrongs which have influenced eternities.

The unique approach of the film in marginalising the Sci-Fi elements is both Never Let Me Go's brave calling card and its potential downfall. As Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) move from school age to young adulthood their situation is slowly revealed to an unsuspecting audience. Never though are the ethics questioned, rarely are they even raised. The three characters seem to exist in a society where a controversial subject has become passée. Does anyone care about it? Did anybody ever care about it? Are we, the audience, meant to care about it? It's incredibly difficult to say and, for some, this will be a problem.

For those looking past the world the characters inhabit (one more question: is this world a dystopia? Why?) there's an tremendously touching romance here as Ruth moves in on Tommy, the boy schoolgirl Kathy had fallen in love with. The situation of the three characters accentuates the problems this causes but when a love triangle is played this well, with such focus on the two female elements, the surrounding locale matters little. Knightley, similarly playing against type here as she did in London Boulevard, is brittle and occasionally abrasive. Garfield, portraying the developed adult persona of a nervous and angry schoolboy, is fine but largely unremarkable. Mulligan is the standout. Heralds of a new messiah from her performance in An Education were premature but here she is practically faultless. Restrained and passionate, flawed and beautiful, sympathetic and tragic, she is the character you both love and, equally, want to give a good 'oh, get on with it' talking to. It is a performance that should have won more awards than it did.

Because of the unanswered questions, the conclusion never quite reaches heartbreaking but it certainly does its best to get there. Alex Garland's screenplay is marred only by a redundant voiceover, Adam Kimmel's cinematography is marred only by the harshness of the scenery he captures. Brevity is a key theme of Never Let Me Go and at just over one-hundred minutes perhaps it inevitably becomes a problem that Romanek doesn't quite get around to covering everything which he needed to. This fact doesn't stop the narrative from being beautiful for the short time that it existed.

Look further...

'initially piecemeal, Romanek's vision transforms Ishiguro's ethereal novel of questions into a well-crafted story of tragic love' - Uncultured Critic


  1. I absolutely love this movie. While the book is a lot better at exploring the world that the kids live in, the movie is a pretty good adaption. Needless to say, I cried a lot at the end!

  2. You're not the first to admit to that Stevee! I enjoyed it a lot too. Really well-crafted clever bit of film-making.