In great contrast to fellow best-of entrant Inception and others of its ilk released the same year, Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, his adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s eponymous novel, subverts the usual expectations of a science-fiction narrative, taking the dystopian plot from its usual dreamscape futurama and placing it into a time more familiar to us (in the book, early- to mid-1990s; the film, late-1980s to early-1990s). The alternate universe in question is a world where disease and illness have decreased and life expectancy has increased, all made possible through advances in clone technology. Here, clones are groomed to donate their vital organs once they reach a certain age — until, ultimately, they achieve “completion.”
As the clones themselves, the film introduced then still-rising stars Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield, with beautifully-pitched performances as Cathy H and Tommy, two clones who have known and loved one another since childhood. Alongside them, the already well-established Keira Knightley also delivers a memorable, performance as their morally ambiguous childhood friend, Ruth, who reunites them later on in life. With Alex Garland’s adapted screenplay, combined with Alex Kimmel’s artful cinematography, all under Romanek’s sensitive direction, Never Let Me Go deftly straddles the thematic elements Ishiguro put into play in the original source material: mainly, the ethics of cloning technology — as well as the intricacies of humanity, and the tenuous grasp we humans have at understanding it.
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Images courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures and imdb.com.
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