Never Let Me Go

Director: Mark Romanek
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley
Runtime: 103 mins
Rating: ****

Never Let Me Go, based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name, is a movie which, despite its bio-ethical and medical concerns manages to cast off any traditional science fiction imagery, finding itself closer to home as a period drama of sorts.

The movie takes us into the lives of a trio of friends, Ruth (Knightley), Tommy (Garfield) and Kathy (Mulligan) who, at Hailsham college are raised so that their organs can be harvested for medical purposes. Never Let Me Go, is the story of their lives, from their boarding school upbringings, up until the day when they are forced to make their final donations.

Romanek remains faithful to the original source material and adapts it for the screen with an emotive grace which demonstrates dexterity and care. Due to pacing issues the film is split into three parts of roughly the same length, and so its slow burning nature means that the sorrow of the tale is allowed time to mature, making its emotional denouement all the more affecting.

Perhaps the movie’s greatest achievement, however, is its stunning, poetic cinematography. Oozing with a lyrical beauty, it gives the movie a Brit-indie aesthetic, shot through with an indefinable sense of nostalgia.

Andrew Garfield makes the most convincing performance of the trio, acting with conviction and power, between the melancholy Mulligan and the possessive Knightley; characters who are constantly at risk of becoming two-dimensional. But above all of this Never Let Me Go is a great success which enforces calls, following the release of The King’s Speech, that this is an excellent time for British film. At its core it is a dark tale of stolen youth and trampled innocence, which packs a formidable emotional punch. Not for the faint hearted.