As clinical as it is artful, Never Let Me Go is strange to behold. Adapting Kazuo Ishiguro’s critically acclaimed novel are writer Alex Garland (The Beach) and director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo), who display deep respect for the compelling source material. The deceptively simple story follows friends Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield), who are all students at a bucolic boarding school. Repeatedly told how special they are by their headmistress (Charlotte Rampling), the trio’s youthful trials and tribulations are thrown into razor-sharp relief by the full stop of a fate that awaits them.
Taking the British stiff upper lip to its devastating conclusion, this film isn’t a chronicle of triumph over adversity, but rather a portrait of mostly meek acceptance. Despite some clunky symbolism, the strong performances, superb production design and compassionate direction make this film an exquisitely melancholy ode to life’s transience.
3 1/2 Stars
Published in The Big Issue #377
Australian release date: 31 March 2011