Starring: Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield
Directed by: Mark Romanek (“One Hour Photo”)
Written by: Alex Garland (“Sunshine”)
With such an original concept, it’s unfortunate when “Never Let Me Go” simply trails off without much emotional impact. The artful cinematography is remarkable by Adam Kimmel (“Capote,” “Lars and the Real Girl”), but the adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name leaves a lot to be desired in the dreary dystopian world it has created.
Part coming-of-age British drama, part science fiction love story, “Never Let Me Go” is a melancholic narrative that follows three life-long friends – Ruth (Keira Knightley), Kathy (Carey Mulligan), and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) – as they grow up together in Hailsham, an boarding school where special rules to ensure their health and safety are enforced so their sole purpose in life can be fulfilled.
Without giving too much of the plot away, the film explains that scientific breakthroughs have increased human life expectancy to over the age of 100. Children raised at Hailsham are one of the reasons people are able to live longer than ever.
During their stay at the boarding school, Ruth and Tommy begin an innocent relationship. Kathy watches them casually as she conceals her own feeling for Tommy, which last throughout their childhood and into their teenage years. After graduating from Hailsham, the trio is sent off to live in an area known as the Cottages where they are given a bit more freedom than before, but are still well aware of thier ill-fated future.
Directed by music video veteran Mark Romanek, who’s only other film credit is 2002’s creepy drama “One Hour Photo,” “Never Let Me Go” is a delicate and surreal story that doesn’t provide enough answers in a script that seems to ignore its most obvious flaws.
As the melodrama rises, it becomes more evident that screenwriter Alex Garland (“Sunshine”) has backed himself into a corner. No matter how faithful he stays to Ishiguro’s source material, the film’s lack of balance between genres is irresolvable. It’s undoubtedly one of the more profound movie premises of the year, but never gets paid the attention to detail it deserves aside from its technical accomplishments.