Directed by Mark Romanek
In the five years since its Booker prize nomination, Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go has collected a cadre of devoted fans who were quietly reassured that despite the recruitment of an American director – Mark Romanek – to bring this literary favourite to the big screen, it would maintain its quintessential British flavour by casting three of the contemporary UK’s most promising acting talents, with an adaptation from local screenwriter Alex Garland and an indigenous shooting terrain of Sussex, Sommerset and Surrey. With these cultural qualities in mind, it was unsurprising to see Never Let Me Go selected as the opening gala feature of the 54th London Film Festival, as the curators sought a prestigious marriage between literary quality and native constitution, whilst it’s certainly not in the vein of afternoon tea or the reassuring thud of willow on leather Never Let Me Go does retain a native Anglican affectation, especially when one considers how the word English is a close lexographical cousin to the word anguish.
In the 1970’s, the young wards of Hailsham, an exclusive British boarding school, are beginning to discern the nature of
Sometimes it takes an intruder to scythe through the cultural baggage and see a culture afresh and although the ideals at the core of Never Let Me Go are universal, both Ishiguro (who in a sense revisits some of the same ground as his acclaimed The Remains Of The Day) and Romanek provide a deft commentary on the water-insulated, island isolated, faintly repressed English habitat. The child actors are excellent as the precursors to the three leads, you can readily accept them as the earlier incarnations of Ruth, Katy and Tommy as they wander through the ochre grays of Hallisham’s chilly halls, and Knightly, Garfield and particularly Mulligan are engaging, absorbing and heartbreaking throughout the remainder of the movie. Romanek takes a restrained and distanced approach to events; there is no flashy camera work, just studied dialogue scenes as he lets the piece grow organically from the script and performances. Perhaps the film’s most interesting conceit is the resigned acceptance with which the graduates of Halisham and similar institutions around the county seem to accept their fate – they seem so conditioned to their smothering destinies as if the very thought of flight or resistance is an utterly alien concept which would never even cross their minds. Indeed, the film takes a restrained approach to the sci-fi elements of the plot; there are no razor wire impediments, no guard dogs and no real sense of some invisible totalitarian regime guarding these precious commodities although some grim hints of deteriorating conditions for our players ancestors at Halisham and the like emerge as the film soldiers on.
Eagle eyed film fans may detect loose ties to the unusual English B-Movie The Damned by US exile Joseph Losey, in