Never Let Me Go
Kathy H.’s life isn’t completely unlike yours. She’s a young woman with a career in health care, a car, a flat and friends she’s known her whole life. Generally speaking though, her life isn’t a common one in the dystopian England where she lives. Kathy (Carey Mulligan) is one of a trio of friends, including Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Kiera Knightley), all of which were raised at Hailsham Boarding School in the English countryside.
The film takes you inside the lives of the three main characters via the narration of Kathy, whose silent longing for Tommy is a constant and beautiful theme of the film. Together they are educated, indoctrinated and accept that they are a project of sorts who will be bonded together as they grow and mature. They believe their lives are full and honorable.
Based on the 2005 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go has been tenderly and carefully adapted for the screen by writer Alex Garland (28 Days Later, The Beach) and director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo).
The film is gut-wrenchingly beautiful and at the same time stark, bordering on bleak, and rightly so. Their understanding of their existence and a longing for something more links the mostly isolated lives of Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, though they aren’t certain of what that more is. Still, Romanek’s style allows the actors to breathe life into the characters and bring them forward against a background of muted colors and a touching score that suggest the subdued tone of the story isn’t an all-together serene one. Mulligan and Garfield are stunning in their portrayals. And while Knightley’s Ruth isn’t as strong as Mulligan’s Kathy, I believe that was the intent.
The film’s core is its almost awkward reminder that our humanity and our time together, not the material things that we gather along the way, are the real treasures of life. In a devastating way, the film is touching and beautiful as we watch the trio reconcile the past and accept the limitations of their reality.