Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy, Drama
Opens locally Friday, October 8th, 2010
Run Time: 1 hour 44 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield
Directed by Mark Romanek (Bee Season, One Hour Photo)
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
"Never Let Me Go" is an odd movie based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro. Starring the lovely Keira Knightley, and Carey Mulligan (one of my favorite young actresses working today), at first glance, it seems like a period-piece movie, set in an English boarding school called Hailsham. The movie has an eerie tone to it, and we suspect that there is more going on. We are right. Turns out, Hailsham is actually a place where human clones are being raised, for the sole purpose of having them provide donor organs for transplants. A horribly haunting concept, the movie sounds much more interesting on paper (or computer screen) than it does on film.
The Plot. The movie slowly unfolds, deliberately revealing important details to the audience along the way. Our main character is Kathy (Mulligan), one of the clones at Hailsham, her crush Tommy (Garfield, recently seen in The Social Network), and Ruth (Knightley), an extrovert and Kathy's only other friend. Since they are only children, being raised without any awareness of the outside world, these clones don't know that they're clones. The teachers educate them strictly, focusing on their health, and creating boundaries (all students know not to go past the fence, less they be killed...so they're told). The children are told to create art, which we later find out is simply a pyschological test of their "humanness." When Ruth steals Tommy's affection right from under Kathy, it creates a love-triangle that carries throughout their lives.
You "complete" me. Since these clones have been brainwashed, they are not aware that there is any other purpose to life other than to grow up, and "complete", a term used that means "to die." Kathy is chosen to be a "carer", which is a clone who helps other clones recover after donating. Some clones can donate more than once, if they survive. Others "complete" after only one donation.
Final analysis. So while I am a big science fiction fan, the premise of this movie is very dark and promising. It allows us to question basic things like "what is it that makes us human?" It also subtely makes us question the morality of human cloning. The problem lies in the movie itself...It is so dreary, so slowly-paced and self-important, that it is very difficult to connect. Ironically, I believe the heart of the movie relies on us being able to relate to these clones, and their very human emotions. There is just a disconnect though, a lack of human emotion in the way the movie unfolds.
While Mulligan and Knightley are worth seeing, the movie is not. Some books, for whatever reason, just don't translate to the screen, and "Never Let Me Go" never had me to begin with. I applaud the original concept of the book, but the movie is a forgettable melo-drama which wastes it's talented actors.
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