Film Review: Never Let Me Go [dir. Mark Romanek; 2010]

A great deal has already been written and said about the difficulties of adapting a piece of literature for the screen. The consensus appears to be that if you loved the book, you're almost certainly going to be disappointed with the film. So it was with a considerable sense of relief - and a fair amount of surprise - that I found myself thoroughly impressed by Mark Romanek's vision of Kazuo Ishiguro's must-read 2005 novel, Never Let Me Go. Adhering to the same structure as the source material, the movie looks through the eyes and memories of Kathy H (played with heart-breaking restraint by Carey Mulligan) to follow the lives of three children as they grow up and learn that the world has a very specific, frightening fate in store for them. Some will argue that the plot's obviously allegorical overtones and Romanek's precise, bleakly-coloured framing create an air of pretentiousness. I'd say the writing and visual style are evidence of a sincere, intelligent (and largely successful) attempt to tell a story that confronts uncomfortable psychological truths. The performances are first-rate (for once, even Keira Knightley's canine-baring leer is well used), Rachel Portman's music memorably underscores the bleakness and Adam Kimmel's photography adds a suitable touch of other-worldliness to proceedings. Just ignore the final voiceover's redundant and explicit spelling out of one of the central themes.


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