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Never Let Me Go


Stars: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, Isobel Meikle-Small, Ella Purnell, Charlie Rowe, Charlotte Rampling, Sally Hawkins, Nathalie Richard, Andrea Riseborough, Domhnall Gleeson

Director: Mark Romanek

Of course I’d like to claim I’ve read Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed novel, but sadly I haven’t. Which leaves me having to review Romanek’s perfectly paced screen version and that’s no bad thing since it boasts a compelling screenplay by Alex Garland, concentrated direction and a trio of fine leading performances from Mulligan, Garfield and Knightley.

We meet them as young adults after spending time with them as youngsters, at a seemingly perfect English boarding school. But there they learn their fates – in the dystopian alternative world in which this extraordinary science fiction drama is set, people are raised to be organ donors for their ‘betters’. Which makes their adult relationships – Mulligan and Garfield fall in love while Knightley, who gives perhaps her finest screen performance, is the unhappy emotional spanner in the works.

While the theme raises echoes of Logan’s Run, Never Let Me Go is a unique, poignant and ultimately deeply affecting science fiction drama whose power lies not in a different future realised with special effects but in the all-too-convincing relationships of characters who are trapped and face terrifying futures. Hawkins, as a concerned teacher, and Rampling, scary as a headmistress, are both excellent too.

It’s essentially a downbeat story but it is so well done on every level (sad to consider that Garfield will most probably be more reliant on special effects than on consummate acting when he becomes the new Spider-Man) that it held me gripped from start to finish.

Alan Frank

USA/UK/France 2011. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Searchlight). Colour by deluxe.
103 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 12 Feb 2011