Thursday, June 9, 2011

Film Review: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

Released: 2010

Directed by: Mark Romanek
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley

For synopsis read my book review

I really enjoyed this film, is was absolutely beauitfully shot and the actors did a far more amazing job than I'd actually expected them to. But it wasn't quite right. I have a few friends who'd seen the film and raved about it so I went in with fairly high hopes so perhaps that is why it fell a little flat for me. More than likely though, the reason it wasn't as great as I'd hoped was because I'd just read the book, and as you can tell from the review, I loved it. But first I figured I'd begin by telling you what I did like about this film.

Like I said it's beautifully shot, obviously a lot of work went into it and just the atmopshere created by the location, costuming, colouring and shots was more than I could have hoped for. There was a wistfulness to the way the camera sometimes lingered for just an extra moment as though drinking in the imagery, that perfectly represented the mood of the novel. That hunger to remember, to capture and experience really came through and I worship the crew of this movie for that. Another thing that really struck me was the emphasis on nature throughout the film. Many of the locations were along desolate beaches with cold grey waves crashing around, or along a forest path with the sad muted winter sun gleeming weakly through the leaves. Similarly their costumes were almost always greens and browns or greys and were so textured, not like the mass-produced synthetic stuff people wear so often nowadays. These are such tiny things in the grand scheme of things but it really tied in with the overall message that I think Ishiguro was getting at, the fragility of life and the beauty and sadness that accompanies such a fragile existence.

Ok so onto the actual storyline. For the most part it kept fairly true to the book, obviously it cut it down substantially but the generally sequencing of events mirrored the book well. The best thing they did was establish the relationship between Ruth and Tommy early on as kids, which if you've read my review you'll understand was the greatest flaw I recognised. Just the additon of a couple of choice lines and a couple of well prepared glances between characters and they filled the gap that had tripped me up so badly. The only problem was then they went to far in the other direction. The film concentrated almost purely on the romantic relationships and almost completely ignored the platonic relationships which were far more important in the long run. By focussing on the love triangle they sacrificed the real heart of the story and the characters, and I thought the overall message suffered from it especially badly. The book was such a subtle balance between all these different elements and just by tipping in favour of one of them it ended up ruining them all.

 Due to time constraints and this focus on the romantic they cut alot of the stuff about them growing up in Hailsham House. This meant they missed alot of the life lessons, personal growth and the complexity of their friendships with one another which were some of the most crucial elements needed so the ending could have the impact and devastating effect that it does. Watching the film I wondered if the screen writer had actually spent much time reading the book and truly understood it, because in the end it felt kind of empty.

Like I menioned above I think the reason the film fell so short was because I'd only finished the book the day before and it had had such a profound impact on me. I really did enjoy this film, and on its own I think it'd be an incredibly powerful and emotional film, but when you compare it to the majesty and intensity of the book it just didn't stand a chance. Well worth a watch though, just be prepared and keep some tissues handy!

My rating: 4/5


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