Never Let Me Go DVD Review

What price would you pay if you could live forever?

Well, perhaps not forever ever. But at least twice as long as normal, without reducing that pesky variable known as quality of life.

Of course, there would be consequences for your new found longevity. And that’s the rather intriguing premise of Never Let Me Go.

Based on the book of the same name by Japanese born British author Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go begins with a woman looking into an empty hospital operating theatre. This is Kathy H, a twenty something carer who’s dedicated her life to looking after donors.

Through the window, we see a young man with surgical scars running along his body being wheeled in on a gurney. Kathy’s donor turns his head and smiles at her, before the doctors prepare him for surgery and Kathy starts to reminisce about her childhood days at Hailsham.

With it’s phalanx of grey uniforms and even greyer teaching staff, Hailsham looks like any other boarding school of England in the 70’s. Only it’s not; students of Hailsham are special, something their head mistress is at pains to point out when lecturing her young children on the perils of smoking.

Kathy’s best friend is Ruth, a pretty yet self involved girl, but there’s also a boy she finds strangely curious. This is Tommy, a sensitive lad who’s not really like the other boys and is often made fun of for this.

As Kathy and Tommy bond with each other, growing closer in that instinctive way you do when you meet somebody on the same wavelength, Ruth grows increasingly jealous and insecure about being left behind on her own.

As these three grow up and leave Hailsham behind, so their love triangle starts to develop even sharper points with which they can hurt each other.

Never Let Me Go is an interesting exploration about the ideas of love, jealousy and trust. Not necessarily in someone else, rather having trust in yourself and your own instincts.

But the central theme of Ishiguro’s premise is far darker than this.

As the secret of what makes Hailsham special is revealed, so we learn that every action has an opposite reaction that carries consequences for someone else. The question is, are you willing to pay that price.

The ensemble cast for Never Let Me Go is a fantastic advert for young, British acting talent. Carey Mulligan enhances her reputation with another authentic performance as Kathy H, the emotional principal of this story and the character whose journey we take with her.

Andrew Garfield is softly compelling as Tommy, the boy who’s magnetically drawn to Kathy H yet too afraid to truly follow his own heart.

And gorgeous boy Keira Knightley continues her recent trend of convincing me that she actually is an actress with another well crafted portrayal of the essentially unlikable Ruth.

There are also smaller roles for Andrea Riseborough and Domhnall Gleeson, who’re both set to feature heavily in the renaissance in British films.

And yet for all this talent, impeccable script and perfectly realised execution of both cinematography and score; there’s something unenjoyable about Never Let Me Go.

An inevitable consequence of dealing with such heavy subject material is the entire film becomes enveloped by this brooding sense of melancholy where you’re just waiting for something bad to happen.

As good as everything in Never Let Me Go may be, it’s just not that much fun to watch.

And that’s a price no film should make you pay.

Jonathan Campbell

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June 2011
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