Award-winning, English-Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro is one of those writers that I keep hearing about but haven’t had the chance to read. So I guess the next best option was to check out an adaptation of one of his better known books, Never Let Me Go.
I went into this film having no idea what it was about except it starred Carey Mulligan, Kiera Knightley and new Spiderman Andrew Garfield (from The Social Network). The poster and the title suggested a moving romantic drama, a tear-jerker, if you will. After all, Ishiguro’s best known work is probably Remains of the Day, so I thought I knew what kind of movie to expect.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised and a little shocked to find that Never Let Me Go is actually a science-fiction film, and a weird one at that because it didn’t look or feel like your typical film of that genre. It’s still a moving romantic drama and a tear-jerker, but the entire premise of the story is firmly grounded in sci-fi.
I don’t want to give away too much, because part of the joy of the film is figuring out just what heck is going on, but basically it’s set in an alternate reality, where in 1952 there was a medical breakthrough that allows humans to extend their expected lifespans beyond 100 years.
The film has gotten some rave reviews, but I found it more fascinating (because of the premise) than anything else. Anchored by strong performances from all of the leads, this was a slow-moving, often confusing, sometimes frustrating, occasionally touching and ultimately haunting film (gave me the chills, in a good way). I liked how it ended but it was a bit of a struggle at times. I think it’s the type of film that has the power to really move people and make them think about love, life and death, but it didn’t quite get there for me. It just felt like something was missing. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood.
3 stars out of 5
PS: I also found it interesting that Keira Knightley was purposely made to look ‘plain’ by the film’s director. Great job, because this was the ugliest I have ever seen her! I was wondering why she looked so horrible.