Never Let Me Go is a film that I had heard a lot of good buzz about. It was winning attention at awards ceremonies (if not prizes) and for all its cast. At the end of 2010 many critics were including it in their films of the year, putting it shoulder to shoulder with Toy Story 3 and Inception, and still, I wasn’t interested.
From all the advertising I had seen, it looked like a purely romantic drama. I have nothing against these films, merely a difficulty in empathising with them due to inexperience. However, what got me interested was when someone told me it was actually a sci-fi.
At its core, the film is indeed a science fiction feature. The film opens with plain text saying that in 1950 advances in medical technology meant that people were living for over a hundred years. From that point on though, the focus is on Cathy H (Carey Mulligan, an up and coming actress who shines in this) whose life we follow. We flashback to see her past with friends Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield, the next Spider-Man) and the story follows their relationship over many years.
What makes the science fiction elements so compelling is the way that they are expertly handled by director and cast alike. There are no big revelation moments but rather the details are drip fed to the audience. None of them are new or earth shattering, but the complete picture is so wonderfully painted that it his home all the harder. The characters are the focus and their journey gives it a greater emotional weight than any other in the genre I’ve seen.
The film has been described variously as upsetting, disturbing, unsettling and alarming. One of the stars describes it as a call to arms, a description I feel more fitting. The director spoke to News in Film and recalls a reaction he received:
I had someone write me an email that said “I saw your film and it made me cry and I haven’t reacted to a film emotionally like that in years. And I called my father, cause I realized I hadn’t spoken to him in 3 weeks and I told him how much I love him and how much I appreciated what a good father he’s been.”
I relate to this reaction entirely. I watched it alone in my flat and had an urge to call those I loved too. I became filled with gratitude for my life and for all the people in it. This film will affect you and for that reason I think you should see it.
Please note, the trailer is littered with spoilers which is why I have not posted it here. If you wish to enter it spoiler free, which I highly suggest you do, then do not see it.