Running time: 103 minutes
Never Let Me Go centres on the story of three kids growing up in an apparent idyllic English countryside boarding school. However this is shattered when they discover that they have been genetically bred in order to become organ donors. As they enter puberty a love triangle forms between Kathy (Carey Mulligan) who loses Tommy’s (Andrew Garfield) undivided devotion to her friend Ruth (Keira Knightly). Indoctrinated to accept their fate they eventually go their separate ways in adulthood only to be reunited later by the common “harvesting” bond they share.
The screenplay by Alex Garland is based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro. This science fiction film explores the ethical dilemma that comes with harvesting organs, genetic engineering and medical advances to prolong life expectancy and or expectations of this. These are serious themes along with love, regret, loss and redemption and the film treats with deference and is thought provoking in every aspect. To some extent this is happening now and not in some potential far distant fantasy future. There are current cases of parents having another child hoping for a transplant match for their existing sick sibling. A black market also exists for donor organs which most of us may turn a blind eye to if us or a loved one would require a transplant to live. The film questions our moral fortitude and if that would change given circumstances and societies acceptance of medical advances combined with the desire for longevity at any cost. Interestingly the main story is set in the 1970-1990’s and this vintage feel rather than futuristic cleverly and eerily underscores the fact that it is already in motion.
Carey Mulligan (An Education) is brilliant at subtlety conveying a range of complex emotions and is well supported by the quirky Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).Knightly (Atonement) as the manipulative friend who seeks redemption when faced with “completion” also puts in a solid performance.
Directed by Mark Romanek, he achieves a melancholic, bittersweet feel down to its muted colours, from the drab school uniforms and street clothes to making the most of the overcast and gloomy English skies. The complex and multi layering of themes will leave you pondering for days.
Highly recommended 3.5/5 stars