TELLURIDE FILM FEST
Telluride Review: Mark Romanek's Newest 'Never Let Me Go'
by Alex Billington
September 4, 2010
Earlier tonight I watched my very first film of this 30-day festival tour, attending the world premiere of One Hour Photo director Mark Romanek's newest film Never Let Me Go in Telluride. It's based on the beloved novel by Kazuo Ishiguro and it's kind of a period piece drama about a love triangle between three individuals growing up in England, but there is a lot more to it than just that. If you want to steer complete clear of any spoilers, then stop at the end of this paragraph, but I do want to say that I loved it. It's a beautiful film, full of fantastic performances and incredibly moving and emotional. It's not flawless, but it is a wonderful film.
Here's where things get a little spoilerish, but not too much, because it's key to watch this without knowing much about it (unless you've read the book). The storyline follows Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) who are growing up in England in a boarding school called Hailsham in the late 1970's. There's a sci-fi element to it, which is part of the overall concept, but I won't go into it any further. We watch as Tommy and Kathy, at around age 12, start to feel something for each, but then Ruth steals him away. Over the years we see the three together, Kathy still secretly pining for Tommy, but not to much avail. It's a love triangle story, but with a conceptual twist, which as I stated earlier I won't dare spoil.
There are many great elements to the film: Adam Kimmel's very beautiful cinematography, Carey Mulligan's phenomenal performance (she's primarily the focus of the film), Rachel Portman's mesmerizing score, Mark Romanek's careful direction, even the concept and story overall. My only minor complaint is that it felt like it moved a bit too quickly, we didn't get enough time with the three of them at each of their different ages. I would've actually been perfectly happy watching a longer version that extended each time period, as there was so much more I would've loved to see to build up the characters and the heart-wrenching story further.
It admittedly takes quite a bit for me to get fully emotionally invested in a film and its characters, but Never Let Me Go achieved that. I was sucked into the story and couldn't let go myself, even believing the hope that was in the mind of the characters, despite realizing afterward that they wouldn't have possibly reached the resulted I wanted to see anyway (sorry for being so vague about it). But despite these little nitpicks, I loved watching it, I was very emotionally affected, which is more impressive than anyone knows, and I now want to read Ishiguro's book to further delve into the story. It's a completely different film than One Hour Photo that Romanek developed with writer Alex Garland and Ishiguro, but it's magnificent in all of its own ways.
Alex's Telluride Rating: 9 out of 10