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Never Let Me Go

  • Film
  • 2 out of 5 stars
WINDOW WATCHING Mulligan and Knightley play peekaboo.
WINDOW WATCHING Mulligan and Knightley play peekaboo.

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars
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.
Written by Tom Huddleston

Release Details

  • Rated:12A
  • Release date:Friday 21 January 2011
  • Duration:105 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Mark Romanek
  • Screenwriter:Alex Garland
  • Cast:
    • Andrew Garfield
    • Charlotte Rampling
    • Keira Knightley
    • Sally Hawkins
    • Carey Mulligan
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