14 July 2011

Movies: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1334260/

British Drama / Romance plus Science Fiction.  IMDB doesn't classify it as science fiction, but it is. It's emotionally dark and understated science fiction is what it is. Problem is I can't really say much about the film without spoiling it, and part of the impact of the film hinges specifically on not being spoiled before watching it. If you plan to watch this I would recommend not reading IMDB quotes from the film (has spoilers), and avoid the random reviews/comments on the film.

Stars Keira Knightly as Ruth, Carey Mulligan as Kathy (she was in Pride & Prejudice with Keira), Andrew Garfield as Tommy (Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Social Network, gonna be the next Peter Parker, etc).

In a nutshell, we meet Kathy. She's a care giver, and she reminisces about her life growing up. She was raised in a special school, much like being raised in an orphanage. The children are all taught, grow, learn, create, play and live together in the school while confined to its immediate grounds. Kathy is a quiet and supportive type. Tommy is a boy that's sometimes emotionally explosive and struggles a bit in art class, the other kids know it, so they pick on him. Kathy takes a liking to him and helps keep him grounded.  Ruth is Kathy's friend but inserts herself between Tommy and Kathy, effectively stealing his affections away from Kathy.  Even after they leave the school as young adults their lives intertwine for a bit as they find their places in the world.

Yes - all that is the start of the emotional romance drama stuff, love-triangly. I left out the under-under story bits that shape and affect their actions, their decisions, their lives.

Overall I liked the film. Great story. Filmed and edited well too. Acted well by the cast. The actors got you to care about their characters and what they experience. I can't think of anything that seemed like a weakness in the film. But I can imagine it isn't exactly everyone's 'cup of tea'. It is deliberately paced, and it's possible that it might feel slow to some moviegoers. I didn't mind the pace, there was enough interesting going on to keep my attention without feeling bored.

For a science fiction film there's no robots or explosions or laser fights, none of that. This is the best kind, where the science fiction is 'just' a part of the world, not a character of the story. What makes the film powerful is how the people in the world live in, and accept, the world they inhabit. It's sad, it's dark, and when you really think it through it is almost terrifying.  But it's subtle enough some folks will miss the significance if they aren't paying attention. There's probably a few folks that watched the film going "the hell - this is a chick flick" and completely miss the real story.

I have in mind a "movie continuum" and where this would fit among similarly themed films. Similar in theme, but not exactly rehashes of a tired cliche. Sort of a "Movie A is here, Movie B is here, and Never Let Me Go fits here along that continuum. But I can't name films A nor B because [spoilers]. So I just wasted your time with that thought.

I guess I can say this - if there's no way in hell you can sit through a romance drama styled film you probably can't sit through this one. I sat through it long enough to pick up on the underlying sci-fi story and stayed because it intrigued me.  And the end of the film made my wife cry. So, yeah, I liked it. Good film.  I haven't decided yet if it's re-watch-able or re-watch-worthy, but I suspect I probably will watch this one again if the opportunity presents itself.

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I'm not saying I considered the film was good because it made my wife cry. I'm not an ogre. I don't take delight in watching her develop emotional connections to films that reduce her to tears. What I'm saying is I can understand how it made her cry and suppose that if I actually did have a heart it's possible it could have got to me.

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