Sometimes I like to watch films based on their title/cover, not really knowing what it’s about. When I chose this film, I thought I was going to get a romancey/drama type film, and though it does have some romance in it, it is no where near what I had guessed. Nowhere at all. Directed by Mark Romanek and based the fictional book by Kazuo Ishiguro’s (2005) “Never Let Me Go” is a film about a dystopian past, one where a percentage of the population are grown to be ‘donors’ These people act as a life support system for the rest of humanity, providing “donations” of their organs, so that others may live. The film starts in a mysterious boarding school called Hailsham and follows the short lives of three friends – Ruth (Keira Knightly) Cathy (Carey Mulligan) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield). As children they are not aware of their purpose and live out their childhoods confined within the school walls. They eventually are told the truth and are released from the school into the real world to live out the rest of their tragic lives.
I found this film a little confusing at first and in truth, it took us two goes to watch it (partly because Charlie woke up and partly because I had no idea what was going on) but by after about half an hour in, I was hooked. This film is beautifully tragic, and i’ll be honest, the sadness of it caught me off guard. As the three friends headed closer and closer to “completing” their donations I found myself becoming truly sickened. It made me think harder about that old phrase “the end justify the means” and what it really meant. I always thought I agreed with it, but seeing these people living their lives only to die changed my mind.
One thing I found disturbing was the fact that it was set in the past. I’m not sure why but I feel that it wouldn’t have affected me as greatly if it were set in the future. It was a troubling thought to think that our society could have been built on such injustice and corruption. I guess if it were set in the future it would have just been another sci-fi, a depiction of a possible, but not probable future. I found the time setting very dark and powerful at the same time.
That said, I thought that it was beautifully shot and scripted and I really enjoyed the direction of the film. This was rivaled only by performance of the actors who managed to capture my heart and break it at the same time. I also find great pleasure in character matching and thought they did a great job with Cathy and Ruth as children. However, I wasn’t quite convinced by the Young Tommy! An outstanding moment in the film had to be the final monolouge, profoundly scripted and beautifully delivered by the talented Carey Mulligan. All in all it was a great film that I highly recommend if you’re looking for something thought provoking.