“Never Let Me Go” is an alternate history story of a woman who, as she reflects on her private school years in the English countryside, reunites with her two friends to face the dark secrets tied to their communal past.
The film was based on Kazuo Ishiguro‘s 2005 novel of the same name. It was directed by Mark Romanek from a screenplay written by Alex Garland.
Here is the critical analysis for the film according to Wikipedia:
Never Let Me Go has received generally positive reviews from critics, with the cast’s performances being praised whereas the film’s overall result has been viewed as a disappointment by some reviewerswhen compared to the novel. A Daily Mail reporter declared the film to be “the most haunting film about love and death I’ve ever seen” and film critic David Gritten of The Daily Telegraph saluted the film and applauded the production and the performances of its supporting cast. Saul Austerlitz, a correspondent to the Boston Globe, felt that the film struck a “mournful note” and believed that certain images in the film, such as a tree in an empty field, “possess a haunting power directly lifted from the best of Romanek’s video work”, while respecting the themes in Ishiguro’s novel. The Hollywood Reporter writer Jay A. Fernandez said that Never Let Me Go was an engaging film, but overall thought that its end result did not have the “devastating emotional impact of the book”. Cleveland Magazine’s Clint O’Connor strongly approved the acting performance of Garfield and Eric Kohn from indieWIRE praised the script and photography by Kimmel and Garland.
In a short review for the film, Chris Knight of the National Post wrote that the film was able to capture the wistfulness and its unpredictable tone of Ishiguro’s novel, but added that it “spills the beans much sooner”. Mark Jenkins of NPR called Never Let Me Go a “remarkably successful adaptation” of Ishiguro’s book, but acknowledged that Romanek and Garland “do make a few missteps,” which were mostly the result of the limitations of turning the novel’s contents into a film. Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman described the film as feeling like a “period piece” and rated the film a C+. Reuters’s Stephen Farber called the film a disappointment because although the film was “expertly acted, impeccably photographed, intelligently written” and “even intermittently touching,” Never Let Me Go is “too parched and ponderous to connect with a large audience”. He said that the film not completely laying out the logic of its parallel universe, such as the cloning process, and its theme of the dangers of medical experimentation being “rather tired” were among the problems with Never Let Me Go.
Slant Magazine writer Ed Gonzalez gave the film a two out of four star rating, saying that in Never Let Me Go the characters’ actions do not feel “appropriately warped” while the interactions between the teachers and students is not “at all rife with the what-are-they-thinking-about-us mystery of the book.” In a positive review from Andrew O’Hehir of Salon.com, he wrote that in the film Romanek “does so many difficult things beautifully in this movie” and thought that it carried a reminder that life is short regardless of how long it last rather than a “lecture about the horrors of human history”. Tom Preston from The Guardian described Mulligan and Garfield’s acting as being solid, while commenting that Knightley’s emotional performances are occasionally jarring. He further wrote that although Never Let Me Go finely demonstrated subtlety in the film, its screenplay could have been written with less compression in some parts. Writing in Newsweek, Louisa Thomas praised the film for its beauty and its performances but also declared that “there’s something just missing here.”
Marshall Fine of The Huffington Post noted that like the novel, the film is difficult to embrace. He also said that the film does work on a “suspense level”, due to Romanek creating a “quiet, leisurely pace that would not be out of place in a yoga class” and stated that he “no doubt was aiming for an eerie, Children of the Damned, vibe, except that it’s the children who are damned”. The writer concluded that Never Let Me Go’s final result is a “staid, lifeless tale that never talks about what it’s about, or at least not enough to provoke deep thoughts on the subject.” Film critic Rex Roberts of Film Journal International thought that the film was moderately surprising given Romanek and Garland’s previous work, saying that they “show real affinity for the subtle shades of resignation and quiet desperation that characterize Isighuro’s prose and, as would be expected, accentuate the unsettling eeriness that pervades Never Let Me Go.” Roberts also felt that Mulligan and Knightley were unconvincing in their roles due to the age differences.
The Canadian Press’s Christy Lemire stated that the film was a “gorgeous, provocative look at humanity” and observed that like its characters, the film “demands much of its audiences emotionally.” She concluded that Never Let Me Go is worth the investment. The Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan thought that the film was “passionate about deliberation and restraint” and believed that the latter may not appeal to its audience. Scott Bowles, writing for USA Today, gave the film a negative review, declaring “never was a movie so bleak and empty”. He claimed that Never Let Me Go did not “embrace the book’s unrelentingly dark tones” but rather wallowed in them and commented that not even the cast’s performance, particularly Garfield’s, were enough to redeem the film. New York Times journalist Manohla Dargis said that the film presented “the aspect of a tasteful shocker” because its “cruelty is done so prettily and with such caution that the sting remains light”.
“Never Let Me Go” opens March 2 exclusively in Ayala Cinemas from 20th Century Fox distributed by Warner Bros.
Watch the trailer here: