NEVER LET ME GO (Mark Romanek, 2010)
NEVER LET ME GO follows the lives of friends Kathy H. (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield), and Ruth (Keira Knightley), who grew up together at Hailsham, a boarding school for special children like them. The film begins in 1978 with them as children and concludes in 1994 with the three as adults trying to make sense of the world. Kathy is the pensive one of the group, and her thoughts and observations provide the narration to NEVER LET ME GO. To say much more about the veiled truths in the plot would ruin the experience of discovering them.
The rich subtext in NEVER LET ME GO wouldn’t mean anything without the care given to the story. Screenwriter Alex Garland’s skillful adaptation of the fantastic Kazuo Ishiguro novel reveals the secret about these characters basically from the outset, yet the underlying science fiction aspect is treated as a canvas for the relationships and emotional turmoil instead of being the plot’s main focus.
NEVER LET ME GO can be about the soul, technological innovation, media messaging, or any number of things beyond what the plot spells out. While the characters are vessels for various interpretations of their existential crises, the main story regarding love and purpose plays well enough on its own.
NEVER LET ME GO also digs into the foundation of our beliefs and the astronomical impact of how we often accept unquestioningly what we are taught and what we view, especially as children. The carefully chosen euphemisms convey concepts with large implications for the kids, yet it is through such words that passivity is branded into them. Director Mark Romanek and cinematographer Adam Kimmel employ a nostalgic and otherworldly visual sensibility to evoke the golden years of innocence and ignorance. The film looks and feels like beautiful heartbreak.