Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Never Let Me Go Film Review

Never Let Me Go is a film adaptation of the hugely successful novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. [Read my review here]

The film follows closely to the novel in style and structure. Split into several parts, the viewer experiences the life of three friends Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) as they grow up at Hailsham, move to the cottages and their lives quickly unravelling beyond.

The movie flows at an extremely slow pace, allowing you to truly absorb the surroundings, objects and artifacts on display. In this way, the film is guides you through an immense amount of visuals, building on atmosphere as well as revealing different personality traits of characters.

For those who have not read the novel, the sequence of events that occur will seem rather truncated and incomplete in a sense that there are obvious segments missing. Whilst this may aid in the idea that Kathy is remembering the past and she herself forgets certain memories, it will undoubtedly confuse and bore those who don't know what gaps are missing.

It is also obvious from very early on that this wasn't going to be a full book adaptation- it wouldn't be possible- and the writers decided it would be best to focus on the complex relationship of the three friends, of the jealousy, love and betrayal that occurs. I personally thought this was the most intriguing part of the book, though the movie does not take this deep enough. The scene in which Ruth reveals to Tommy that Kathy thought his drawings were stupid in the forest found in the book would've been perfect in the movie to drive the tension between the three.

Admirably, the film does manage to present the scenes it captures in an accurate way, mostly. The scene in the car as the trio are driven to see Ruth's "possible" is perhaps one of my favourites. However, one scene which annoys me to death is the iconic scene where Kathy hugs the pillow like her child as the song "Never Let Me Go" is playing (hence the title). The person standing in the doorway watching her was not Ruth and shouldn't be- I hate that they made this change. Another change I did not like was the fact that Tommy bought Kathy the tape during the "sale", when he really should have went shopping with her for the tape on their outing, hence strengthening their love for each other. 

The ending for the movie is beautiful though, and really leaves a lasting impression (if you managed to sit through all of it). The message of using the time you have wisely, of hope and innocence really finishes the movie off brilliantly. Much like the novel, the movie leaves you wanting more of a resolve and in yearning for answers understand the tragedy you have just witnessed.

Carey Mulligan- Kathy H
Keira Knightley- Ruth
Andrew Garfield- Tommy

Carey Mulligan is truly wonderful in this movie- she seems to be able to burst into tears just like that- so natural and innocent. She is the perfect fit for the character of Kathy and is underrated for her performance here.

I felt Keira Knightley was not given enough to do, though the dramatic scenes which she was given was done somewhat well. I did think she was far too happy when Kathy and Ruth meet again and they were walking down the hallway- though when the three are on the beach, Keira found her remorseful look and that particular scene I felt she deserves more credit for.

Having now seen several films with Andrew Garfield in, he has this silent charm about him- his slight stutter and reserved appearance really fits the character of Tommy. I'd perhaps like to see him take charge a bit more in future movies, but here he does passive well.

There is an inevitable sense of tragedy and helplessness that the film manages to convey which is perhaps the main point of the movie- this idea of fate and lack of time. I feel the movie could have taken these aspects and instead of making an adaptation, create a far more dynamic and tragic love triangle. The character of Ruth isn't developed as much as the book does and in this way we don't see her being as evil as we know her to be.

In the end, this movie is a series of accurate scenes from the book which is far too slow to be enjoyed as a standalone film for those who haven't read the book; and for those who have, the film is far too incomplete to be a true adaptation of everything Ishiguro set out to create and ultimately fails to captivate as the book does.

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