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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Never Let Me Go (2010)


Apparently the sun never comes out in this alternate history, either.

Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them. It ain’t pretty, trust me.

I have never read the original novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, and to be honest, that may have been a good decision on my-part, since I didn’t really know what was happening and also the fact that I had no idea what type of mood it was going to put me in, because damn man, it’s a total downer. No, I mean it. It is a REAL downer.

However, let’s not talk about all of that sadness that goes on here, let’s focus on the finer things with this flick (and in life) considering I’m not ready to walk into traffic just yet. It was really cool to see director Mark Romanek back after all an 8-year hiatus from movies and take a subject matter like this because he fits it’s feel and style very well. This whole film, from start to finish, is absolutely stunning and beautiful to look at. The whole look has this very dry sense of color the whole time, but it also ended up giving some of the most beautiful images of this movie such as onne image that stands out the most in my mind is the shot of a beach and a little old tugboat was lying on its side in the sand, with the orange sunlight just barely shining over it. That’s one-shot from this film that really stayed with me and made me understand just the type of world I was placed-in with this flick. It’s a dark piece of material we have here, but with Romanek on-board, beauty still finds it’s way of climbing back into the story and presenting itself the whole way through.

I also felt that the mood that Romanek set for this film was just the right way to approach this material to begin with. I don’t want to get into too much about what goes on in this flick and how it all happens, but the fate these kids are left to live are pretty damn sad to begin with and Romanek doesn’t try to gloss that up with any unnecessary humor or themes about the joys of life. No siree, instead he makes this a flick about how we as humans, are supposed to live out our lives and be happy even though it may not always go that exact-way we want it to be. Then again, I highly doubt that that is what the central message of this flick is all about, but it’s what I could get underneath all of the sadness that Mr. Romanek used so well.

The problem was that there was also a bad-side to that depressing mood as well. This flick is so based on being a total debbie-downer, that even the parts where the flick tries to bring some little moments of being happy, they don’t really do much because you know that no matter what happens, the violin score will just come right back on and thus bring on back the sadness that we thought we escaped. There’s no problem with a film being sad the whole time, especially if that’s what it’s mood is conveying straight from the start, but it’s a real problem is when it seems like that’s the only thing that the film has any time to focus on and rather than just giving us something to smile and at least be happy about for the meantime, we are instead treated to total and utter depression. I guess I don’t quite get it since I didn’t read the original source material but I seriously could have only imagined how bad that must have been.

What really brought me into this flick though was the performances here by this young and attractive cast that have all proved themselves in their own respective bouts, but come together here and do a nice-job with some dull-ass characters. Carey Mulligan is great as Kathy H., and once again shows that she has the emotional chops and presence to pull off any character and have you know she is always around. The new Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield, is also nice to watch as Tommy and feels like a real kid who just doesn’t know how to act around girls, or anybody for that matter. Then again, he also got jipped out of being the co-founder of the largest social network of all-time so that may add a bit of insult to injury as well. (teehee, Facebook jokes rule) The real stand-out here may be Keira Knightley though, who is very one-dimensional as the bitchy and manipulative chick, Ruth, but is very good at it unlike anyway we have seen her before.  However, her character does end up starting to change and show some real humanity by the end of the flick and was probably the only character I could actually feel something for once everything was said and done. Which brings me on to my last and final problem with this flick.

I get that these characters are here for a reason that I won’t say, but something just felt off about them to the point of where I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel for any of them. Since there was so much depth to the sadness of this whole plot, the characters themselves are sort of just left on the side and are there for you to care about if you want to or not. The film can be a little stuffy, but it barely let me feel anything for them and then when their fate is finally said to them, it was weird how I didn’t feel any emotional connection. Now it would be hard to say that I could ever relate to anything that any of these characters have been and are going through but I still think as a film, there should have been more emotions centered at the characters rather than just their surroundings. Maybe I was supposed to feel this emptiness or maybe I wasn’t supposed to feel anything for them, maybe it was just for the whole situation itself. Maybe. I don’t know really.

Consensus: If you are in happy mood and want to keep that going, then don’t check out Never Let Me Go, because it is sad, empty (in many ways), and doesn’t have any real moments of shining suns in the sky, but it is also beautiful to look at, a very moody piece that can really put you into its setting, and features a fine young cast that does a great job with all that their given.

7/10=Rental!!

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23 responses to “Never Let Me Go (2010)

  1. Nostra November 19, 2012 at 7:13 am

    It was an alright movie although I was more interested in why society turned out that way…

  2. Dan (Top10Films.co.uk) November 19, 2012 at 10:22 am

    A bit like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, the film has a very downbeat theme but it creates such great drama out of it. Seeking a Friend had the road-trip/comedy/romance element, this has a really captivating concept and some great character-drama. Good review Dan.

  3. Ben November 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    I agree with Nostra. For me, it’s a chick flick masked inside an unexplored sci-fi world. I only watched the film because my girlfriend loves Andrew Garfield, so I was kinda suckered into it.

    I really wanted the sci-fi element to be explored more, darnit!

  4. Natalie Stendall November 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Nice review. This film did put me on a real downer but it’s so well put together. I felt a lot for the characters, especially Keira Knightley’s character in the end. It’s a tragic film and an interesting take on the future. I’d definitely watch it again.

  5. Rob Carraher November 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Great review Dan! I really loved this film. For one reason or another, I am drawn to complete emotional downers. I like to be affected by film, and this was one that left me in tears. So I left feeling like it did something to me. I don’t know if that is always the best way to judge a film, but I can’t help it.

    But the acting is definitely what made it. Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield are two of my favorite actors, and their chemistry here was fantastic. Keira Knightley is not one of my favorite actresses but she always seems to find her way into films that I really love, and I find a way to tolerate her through the character she plays (Seeking a Friend).

  6. momto3feistykids November 20, 2012 at 1:55 am

    Great review! I liked this movie too, and I agree that the performances by the three leads were the best thing about it. Unfortunately, the premise of the film had been spoiled for me. If I’d gone into it knowing nothing about it, I think it might have been quite powerful.

    http://eclecticbooksandmovies.blogspot.com

  7. ianthecool November 20, 2012 at 3:47 am

    lol wow. “So if you are in the mood to become really depressed, watch this!” Actually, the way you call it empty is what has me most hesitant about watching this. Empty in what way?

    • CMrok93 November 20, 2012 at 3:49 am

      Just that the feelings should be there, and in ways, are there but just don’t translate well enough off-screen and make us feel the same sadness and depression that these characters do. That make any sense whatsoever? Haha

  8. Lady Kell of Kincavel November 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Do go and read the book – it’s wonderful. I think you’ll lik eit more than the film. :)

  9. Jaina November 21, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Very fond of this film, but you’re right… there’s not much happy to it. It’s one of those films that you watch, once, maybe twice, appreciate the beauty and sorrow in it but then make sure not to drown in it!

  10. Courtney Young November 21, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Was I the only one who felt that this movie was a significantly better version of The Island? The Island was pretty mediocre, but the plots were slightly similar. This movie is definitely worth seeing for the performances by the three main actors, but it’s definitely a huge downer.

  11. AndyWatchesMovies November 27, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    I was kind of disappointed by this but I’ve been meaning to read the novel

  12. Pingback: Never Let Me Go | The Soul of the Plot

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