Definition of bravery: attempting to bring to the silver screen a film based on what's been called "the best book written." But screen writer Alex Garland is no stranger to challenges...
How to describe "Never Let Me Go"? To paraphrase Dr McCoy, "it's science fiction Jim, but not as we know it!" It straddles two very different genres with one foot in English romance and the other in alternate reality sci-fi. And, strangely, it works!
The reason it does is the sci-fi element is never made more than a small thread running through it all - with the youngsters scanning their wrists being the infrequent reminder that there is something not quite right with this particular reality.
What does come to the foreground, triumphantly, is the triangle of love involving Mulligan, Garfield and Knightley. Told in flashback by Mulligan, we see the three forge the bonds that will unite and then tear them apart over 20 years; from their "art is pointless" school days up to their designated roles/jobs in society. It's here where the thread pulls the plot together AND pulls at the heart strings - love may face many hardships in life but this is a challenge that eternal love cannot hope to win.
The three main leads do themselves proud, handling the tenderness and confusion of youth with a heavy burden but the true surprise is their pre-teen counter parts who hook you in allowing the more accomplished actors to finish the job of making you question morality, mortality and what you could do for love.
Shot with, and displaying equal amounts of tenderness and love, "Never Let Me Go" is a slow-burning movie where a lingering look speaks as loudly as the withheld dialogue between lovers. You may feel during it's running time nothing seems to be happening, but therein lies the cunningness - with moments of delight such as the awkwardness of them not knowing how to order food in a cafe to the gift of an audio cassette from an adolescent boy to a glance-giving girl - it creeps under your skin to saturate your soul. Beautiful.
UK release date: 11/02/11