Combustible Celluloid
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With: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, Isobel Meikle-Small, Charlie Rowe, Ella Purnell, Charlotte Rampling, Sally Hawkins, Kate Bowes Renna, Hannah Sharp, Christina Carrafiell, Oliver Parsons, Luke Bryant
Written by: Alex Garland, based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
Directed by: Mark Romanek
MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality and nudity
Running Time: 103
Date: 09/03/2010

Never Let Me Go (2010)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Organ Music

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based upon a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) and directed by the celebrated former music video maker Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo), Never Let Me Go is meticulously made, and never less than interesting. It develops and sustains a specific, eerily effective mood that's hard to describe; it's somewhat dystopian, but also somewhat like an alternate reality.

Kathy (Carey Mulligan) appears to work in some capacity in a hospital. In flashback, we learn about her past, growing up at a special, peculiar school. She falls in love with Tommy, but loses him to her friend Ruth. Before long, the children learn of their real purpose: they have been specially created for "spare parts" to be donated to "real," sick people. Years later, Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) are still together. Rumors begin to circulate that there may be special treatment for couples who are truly in love, but Kathy volunteers as a "carer," which will take her on a different path from her friends. Will these young people discover the secret behind their lives, and can true love conquer all?

The three leads are captivating and charismatic, but that may not be enough to provide a real emotional connection in this chilly, thoroughly depressing atmosphere. The overall science fiction idea hangs over the entire movie like a dark cloud; it has no beginning or ending, or center, and it's unchanging. Although the ultimate point of the movie is to appreciate what little we're actually given (and also to value the real meaning of being human), it also leaves little room for hope.

Fox's Blu-Ray release comes with some terrific extras, notably a gallery of Mark Romanek's on-set photographs, a gallery of the artwork used in the film, and a gallery of "propaganda" created for the film. There's also a typical 30-minute making-of featurette.

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