Never Let Me Go
This is the dilemma that the characters in director Mark Romanek’s film, Never Let Me Go, must face. Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, the film follows three childhood friends, Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield), and Ruth (Keira Knightly), from their days in an English boarding school, Hailsham. While at school they follow the strict set of rules that their headmistress, Miss Emily (Charlotte Rampling), has outlined for them. Their harmonious way of life starts to show cracks when a new teacher, Miss Lucy (Sally Hawkins), reveals a secret about the school that will greatly impact the students.
Never Let Me Go was a film that did not impress me at first but, ultimately, I am glad I stuck with it. The slow pacing and seemingly typical love triangle had me wondering about all the positive reviews I had read. Fortunately the intricate and subtle layers of the film started to reveal itself and I became completely enthralled. Part of the lure of the film is that Romanek never opts for the big flashy scenes. Instead he draws out the sorrow and allows his actors to really revel in their character’s situations. Never Let Me Go offers many deep questions such as what is the value of a life? Do we have souls? And how do we assess who deserves to live and who deserves to die?
The three leads do a great job of showing the complexities of having hope in a hopeless situation. Carey Mulligan is really developing into quite a wonderful actress. She is slowly living up to the hype that arose after the release of An Education. Mulligan not only sold the bittersweet love story with Tommy; but she also, in her role as caregiver, showed how easily one can be desensitized to death. She questions if there is any real difference between those who are dying and the people they are saving.
One of the reasons that Mulligan is so effective in her role is the natural chemistry she has with both Keira Knightly and Andrew Garfield. Knightly shines as the vindictive Ruth, who may not be as strong as she seems. Knightly could have made Ruth an unlikeable character, but opts to make her far more rounded than you initially expect. Garfield on the other hand does of good job of portraying the fragile nature of Tommy without making him annoying. Even when the adult version of Tommy finally realizes his fate, it is his restraint and a somber tone, after a brief outburst, that speak volumes.