Never Let Me Go (12A)

Film

Science fiction

WINDOW WATCHING Mulligan and Knightley play peekaboo

WINDOW WATCHING Mulligan and Knightley play peekaboo.

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>2</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
Rate this
 

Time Out says

Posted: Tue Feb 8 2011

You wouldn’t know it from the poster campaign. You couldn’t guess it from the cast list. Even watching the film, the horrible reality is only gradually revealed. And yet it’s true: ‘Never Let Me Go’ is… a sci-fi movie.

If ever proof were needed that cultural snobbery is alive and well, it’s right here. ‘Never Let Me Go’ is a film so ashamed of its own genre trappings that it goes to extreme and illogical lengths to pretend they don’t exist. Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield play Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, pupils at a strange English boarding school who slowly learn that they’re being bred for a grim purpose – and one we can’t fully reveal without a spoiler…

You’ve seen this movie before, back in 2005, the same year Kazuo Ishiguro published his novel. Then it was called ‘The Island’ and masked its numerous scripting deficiencies with a series of noisy, action-packed escape scenes. No such luck here: Ishiguro’s central point about human acquiescence to the inevitability of death is powerful on the page, but on screen it’s flat and frustrating. Alex Garland’s screenplays (‘28 Days Later’, ‘Sunshine’) often feel like they were written in the same time it takes to watch the film, and this is no exception, glossing over key emotional currents like the central love triangle and draining any sense of tension from the material.

Mark Romanek’s direction is icy and uninvolved, but there are some lovely visual flourishes, and his work with the actors is solid: while Knightley flounders, Mulligan and Garfield provide the film’s few effectively intimate moments as a star-crossed victims doomed to die. The result is pretty, empty, and immediately forgettable.
0

Reviews

Add +

Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Jan 21, 2011

Duration:

105 mins

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5
LiveReviews|40
1 person listening
MarkDown

There are two main propositions in this film. The first being that the characters inhabit a world where they are "farmed" from birth to provide organs for transplantation. The second ly that a rumoured means of reprieve from this terrible fate exists, and yet is withheld from two of the lead characters by the third lead who conducts a sham relationship to block their chance for fleeting happiness. These two weak, flat arguments are drawn out throughout the entire film in an unbelievable, shallow fashion that says nothing about the realities of the human condition or human behaviour. At the same time the powerful themes that could have been highlighted have instead been portrayed with the passion and depth of a play describing the disappointment engendered by a village garden fete being cancelled due to warnings of bad weather.The acting, is good on the whole, but flattened again by the shallow characterisations and plot line. The shooting of the film itself has artistic merit without question but the music and screen atmosphere remains monotonous and once again overshadowed by the ludicrous propositions. The sadness of this film should be reserved for the audience, and pity for those simple enough to be moved by it, when there are far more potent stark and vivid tragedies played out in the real world every day and at all points. My opinion only of course, so by all means enjoy and be moved if you can.

Ardjuna

A thoroughly moving and thought-provoking piece, sublimely acted and beautifully shot, the two-star rating of this reviewer is at best unjustified. Of course film reviews will be subjective to some extent, but it is difficult to understand how anyone with any emotional intelligence could remain so unaffected by NLMG.

Ardjuna

A thoroughly moving and thought-provoking piece, sublimely acted and beautifully shot, the two-star rating of this reviewer is at best unjustified. Of course film reviews will be subjective to some extent, but it is difficult to understand how anyone with any emotional intelligence could remain so unaffected by NLMG.

Tash

This movie was disappointing. Perhaps I could have appreciated if I hadn't read the book first, but I couldn't stand the changes that were made in the adaptation. They seemed pointless and changed the relationships between the characters. There was a lack of insight into the characters thoughts and far too much of the plot was removed or altered. Having said that, Carey Mulligan did a great job as Kathy. I just wish that Kazuo Ishiguro's text had come through, instead of a typical tear-jerking movie.

Maddy

I loved the book and somehow the film was even more moving. I haven't cried at a film for a long time but this one made me want to howl along with one of the central characters. For me, the serious question it asks is what we will allow to go on in our society's as long as we can hide from the unpleasant darkside of things that bring us benefits.

Maddy

I loved the book and somehow the film was even more moving. I haven't cried at a film for a long time but this one made me want to howl along with one of the central characters. For me, the serious question it asks is what we will allow to go on in our society's as long as we can hide from the unpleasant darkside of things that bring us benefits.

Mark

Give me strength, where does T.O get its reviewers? I guess Tom Huddleston would probably complain about a lack of decent guitar solos in a Mahler symphony... oops no I'm being a cultural snob, apart from the fact it doesn't really work... Take time Mr H, and let the structure and emotions of this moving and thoughtful adaptation percolate through to whatever sensibilities are buried beneath the surface of your prejudicial mindset. Perhaps then you will understand the difference between NLMG and "The Island" and get how Ishiguro's message relates to the world we live in today without having to relegate a movie to its genre and then judge whether it has enough action to qualify as "good sci-fi".

Olivia

I agree with this short review, although it doesn't quite convey how awful this film is. While the acting and cinematography are for the most part decent, the premise and narrative thrust of the film are so hackneyed, vacuous and just plain stupid to merit anyone's attention. The characters, who seem to represent a strange analogue of the human being without any of this creature's most vital characteristics, are not developed in any significant way, and the viewer does not get much involved in their fates. It's a great shame that a film that could have explored mortality, love, freedom, and the future of health in an engaging and intelligent way had to line it all with sentimentality and cliche, all under the benevolent gaze of the British rural aesthetic.

Richard  Carter

Well, you can certainly rely on Time Out's film reviews. Go to a load of pretentious, incompetently filmed BS like Heartbeats and Time Out gives it four stars. But go to a finely-made, moving and sensitive film examining a fundamental subject like life and death, in this case Never Let Me Go, and what does Time Out produce? A classic whine and a ludicrous comparison with The Island. I went to see NLMG knowing nothing at all about it beforehand (for all I knew it could have been the latest Jennifer Aniston crapfest), and was deeply impressed by a serious view of the issues here (don't want to give too much away with spoilers, even at this late stage). But I suppose there's one good thing about this review: you can, as ever, rely on a Time Out review, in that if TO says it's good, it'll be shite, and if TO says it's bad, it may well be as good as this film is.

Lilli

Guy who wrote this surely did sleep when they was trying to teach him in school - anything.. and surely did skip a lot in life when is not able to recognize to true, clean and feeling bigger than ourselves. Thumbs up for this great movie.

Lilli

Guy who wrote this surely did sleep when they was trying to teach him in school - anything.. and surely did skip a lot in life when is not able to recognize to true, clean and feeling bigger than ourselves. Thumbs up for this great movie.

ed

forgot my stars... I'd be interested to see deleted scenes or an extended cut...films feels like it got hacked, to keep a very trim running time.

AndrewC

No CGI, no car chases, no 3D, no explosions whatsoever. If you want action-packed escape sequences or even happy endings, see another film.

AndrewC

No CGI, no car chases, no 3D, no explosions whatsoever. If you want action-packed escape sequences or even happy endings, see another film.

Liv

I find it curious that Tom Huddleston is accusing this film of cultural snobbery when he is the one who finds sci-fi a 'horrible reality'. It concerns me that a supposedly good film critic is so limited by his own perceptions of what 'genre' ought to be- heaven forbid someone might do something different. It is also a little embarassing that he can not imagine a sci-fi film without shiny surfaces and blinking lights... Never mind Tom, the next Star Trek film will be out soon- perhaps you'll find that easier to deal with.

Chio Chuca

The acting is fantastic, the objects and scenery somehow calm you down a bit against the frustration you feel for the passiveness of the characters towards their destiny. But my body grew up in the sunshine and my soul is tropical, I can see how the constant grey clouds over this beautiful island have made unhappiness so acceptable to its inhabitants, and therefore I can understand those who liked the film, but I cannot join them because as I said...my soul is tropical!

Paul Murphy

This is an unjustifiably mean review. I found Never Let Me Go a very powerful film for a number of reasons. The frequent lack of rebellion was a chilling consequence of the near-universal acceptance of inhumanity - as if the Nazis had won in Britain (and perhaps commenting on Brits' frequent phlegmatic acceptance). A very thoughtful adaptation of the excellent book. The 'privileged' world of Hailsham turns the romance of Harry Potter on its head (and perhaps Ishiguro is commenting on Oxbridge as an isstitution too). All actors, including Keira Knightley, portray their characters in their situation really well. A contender for film of the year - rush to see this film.

Paul Murphy

This is an unjustifiably mean review. I found Never Let Me Go a very powerful film for a number of reasons. The frequent lack of rebellion was a chilling consequence of the near-universal acceptance of inhumanity - as if the Nazis had won in Britain (and perhaps commenting on Brits' frequent phlegmatic acceptance). A very thoughtful adaptation of the excellent book. The 'privileged' world of Hailsham turns the romance of Harry Potter on its head (and perhaps Ishiguro is commenting on Oxbridge as an isstitution too). All actors, including Keira Knightley, portray their characters in their situation really well. A contender for film of the year - rush to see this film.

ian

Having read a lot of the above reviews of this film I was not sure what to expect. The Timeout 2 star rating is shamefully mean as are some of the less than favourable comments below. I found the film very moving and tragic. The relationships that were desperately unresolved until their chances had run out were most sad to me, but then I am perhaps just a fifty something 'sado'. Don't expect to leave the cinema fired up, but well worth my monthly subsciption. The

Paul

A miserable night out and viewing experience, come back John Wyndham. Film plods on from one predictable scene to another, No surprises despite some nice photographic flourishes.

Helen K

Apologies for my below spelling errors ..... I was slightly riled when I wrote.

Helen K

Apologies for my below spelling errors ..... I was slightly riled when I wrote.

AnnMayer

Much as I loathe KK, I found the film moving and poignant and went along with the premise. They don't rebel or run away because they don't - they are not rebels. We all have to 'complete' one day - that's the scary twist. 2 queries: I assume if they sent them all to a farm, they had tetanus injections to ward off nasties and why not harvest the goodies in one go rather than let them recover between ops?

Michelle E

Dull plot,I just wanted something exciting to happen because the cast were so promising. Also as previously said, i cant believe "they" just accepted their fate and didnt do anything about it. I ended up walking away midway through as was bored!

jez

The first poster on here writes 'thank you for not revealing the mystery'. The film 'reveals' the mystery in the opening titles - in the book you have to read the first half to discover it. When asked why this was so, Ishiguro said that in US pre-releaase screenings the audience came out asking whether this 'experiment' had actually taken place in the UK!

JohnnyP

Pared down storytelling that takes a far more mature approach to it's multiple genres than most Hollywood product. For me, this film works on many levels, most potently as a warning of the consequences of tampering with science while ignoring our conscience - reminiscent of A.I. Heart-wrenching, in parts; I loved it.

Evie

Timeout review is pretty much on the ball. Andrew Garfield gives the standout performance but the film is let down by an illogical plot and patchy characterisation. The soupy soundtrack suggests that we're meant to find it all deeply moving but I felt detatched most of the way through. One you can postpone to watch until it comes out on DVD

BobbyM

Does not try to conceal the scince fiction element, and is a beautiful film

pleased cinemagoer

I thought the film did a really good rendition of the novel, though it was more bleak than sinister (I found the book very sinister - almost creepy). I agree that the child actors stole the show - they were amazing - but liked the adults' performances, too, particularly Andrew Garfield - very moving.

Ben

Wow! Couldnt disagree more with this review. I agree that they aren't marketing it as sci-fi but the film knew what it was, if the dialogue wasn't pushing the love triangle it was teasing out small clues as to the nature of this alternate reality. It was supposed to be a mystery that you uncovered over the course of the film right? Btw, well done for not spoiling it... then mentioning another film which used the exact same twist. This film was beautiful, poingant and incrediaby well crafted. I cant believe its not getting the love it deserves

Ben

Wow! Couldnt disagree more with this review. I agree that they aren't marketing it as sci-fi but the film knew what it was, if the dialogue wasn't pushing the love triangle it was teasing out small clues as to the nature of this alternate reality. It was supposed to be a mystery that you uncovered over the course of the film right? Btw, well done for not spoiling it... then mentioning another film which used the exact same twist. This film was beautiful, poingant and incrediaby well crafted. I cant believe its not getting the love it deserves

Tbam

I have to agree with this review. Something is missing in this film. In fact the 1st 30mins, the 3 main cast are in their early teens and played by child actors and I have to say, this was the most interesting part of the film. The rest was done in such a typical 'English' way. None of the characters had any backbone. It becomes increasingly irritating watching these 3 characters accept their fate and literally do nothing about it. No fight, no rebelling, just complete acceptance. Which I feel is just not true to life, even for us monotone apologetic English folk! This is not a film to be watched more than once.

Dariush Alavi

For what it's worth, I'd like to say that I couldn't disagree more with this review. I adore Ishiguro's novel, so it was with a considerable sense of relief - and a fair amount of surprise - that I found myself thoroughly impressed by Mark Romanek's vision of Never Let Me Go. Adhering to the same structure as the source material, the movie looks through the eyes and memories of Kathy H (played with heart-breaking restraint by Carey Mulligan) to follow the lives of three children as they grow up and learn that the world has a very specific, frightening fate in store for them. The writing and visual style are evidence of a sincere, intelligent (and largely successful) attempt to tell a story that confronts uncomfortable psychological truths. The performances are first-rate (for once, even Keira Knightley's canine-baring leer is well used), Rachel Portman's music memorably underscores the bleakness and Adam Kimmel's photography adds a suitable touch of other-worldliness to proceedings. Just ignore the final voiceover's redundant and explicit spelling out of one of the central themes.

Dariush Alavi

For what it's worth, I'd like to say that I couldn't disagree more with this review. I adore Ishiguro's novel, so it was with a considerable sense of relief - and a fair amount of surprise - that I found myself thoroughly impressed by Mark Romanek's vision of Never Let Me Go. Adhering to the same structure as the source material, the movie looks through the eyes and memories of Kathy H (played with heart-breaking restraint by Carey Mulligan) to follow the lives of three children as they grow up and learn that the world has a very specific, frightening fate in store for them. The writing and visual style are evidence of a sincere, intelligent (and largely successful) attempt to tell a story that confronts uncomfortable psychological truths. The performances are first-rate (for once, even Keira Knightley's canine-baring leer is well used), Rachel Portman's music memorably underscores the bleakness and Adam Kimmel's photography adds a suitable touch of other-worldliness to proceedings. Just ignore the final voiceover's redundant and explicit spelling out of one of the central themes.

Mike

This is the least laugh-a-minute film on current release. A friend tried to read the book and left it unfinished, though never explained why. Now I understand. The general idea behind the storyline is perhaps a little far-fetched for the era when it was set but, then again, so was 1984 when it was written. Storyline aside, the script is good. Loathe as I am to admit it, Keira Knightley is very good. Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield absolutely shine. I’m not convinced this film will win any major awards, something doesn’t seem to gel. I wasn’t overly struck by the photography, and given the potential of some of the bleak settings this was a bit of a let down. Also, the characterisation of the characters when young wasn’t great. Perhaps it’s all a little far-fetched. But for its preview evening last night, screen 4 of Cineworld Chelsea was fairly full. A three star movie.

Sticky

The three leads' acting is fine but while the depressing story is just about plausible, the script doesn't make you feel involved enough emotionally with the characters. All-in-all it's ok but could've quite easily been awards-worthy with a better screenplay (here it's Alex Garland, known for 'The Beach').