Film Review: Never Let Me Go
If there was ever doubt that Andrew Garfield should have won the Rising Star at the BAFTAS, then this will eliminate any doubt; he’s once again fantastic. Equal elements sci-fi and drama, this uneasy, creepy film follows three students of the strange and mysterious Hailsham Boarding School, and follows them as they discover their “purpose” up until they “complete” (the words will become clear once you’ve seen it). It relies on the acting performances of three leads; Tommy, played by a wonderfully subtle Garfield, Kathy H, the narrator and main protagonist, played by a brilliant Carey Mulligan, and the least interesting of the three, spiteful Ruth, played by Keira Knightley. Not to say she’s bad, but her performance doesn’t measure up to her co-stars.
The film never goes all out, whether that’s in emotion (aside from one scene when Garfield and Mulligan receive bad news), directing, or the performances. The script reveals subtle clues at the unease at stake, so you never quite feel right. If there’s a problem, it’s that you never quite get that big shock or rebellion at the system. The twist itself happens very quickly, without much fuss, which some will think works well with the quiet tone of the film, and others will think dampens a potentially brilliant moment.
The script, written by Alex Garland, screenwriter of such films as The Beach and 28 Days Later, won’t be winning any awards, but is a classy affair, working well with an original concept, and the directing is unfussy yet occasionally striking.
This is a very much an actor’s film, though. After her star making turn in An Education, this film looked to send her sky high, while Garfield, now recognised worldwide for The Amazing Spider Man, carries on his success after The Social Network. Knightley, the most established actress in this, gets back to some serious character work, and it’s welcome. It isn’t completely perfect; the relationship between Tommy and Ruth strikes a little bit too soon, making it feel slightly random, while the ending seems to happen rather suddenly, but aside from those minor issues, this is excellent, and refreshingly new in a sea of unoriginal films.
By Harry Ford