Never Let Me Go (2010)

(In theaters, October 2010) Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go is generally acknowledged as a Science Fiction novel coming from outside the SF genre, and as such pays more attention to fine prose, character development and inner monologue than SF devices, coherent word-building or narrative excitement.  As an adaptation, Never Let Me Go feels a lot like that, with a thin plot, leisurely pacing and constant focus on the three lead actors.  (Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and -to a lesser extent- Keira Knightley all do well with their roles.)  The muted colors of the cinematography reflect the restraint with which the characters react to their fated lives, and the lack of urgency in the telling of the story is designed to let everyone reflect at lengths about the situation.  It’s one of those rare (and largely mythical) SF movies without obvious special effects, and as such should earn a bit of respect from the genre-reading crowd.  On the other hand, that genre-reading crowd will be more likely to recommend the film to others as accessible-level SF than to appreciate the film for themselves, given how it vaguely sketches the alternate-reality of the story’s universe, and features largely passive characters whose role is to stare into the face of inevitability.  There is, however, something very interesting in the film’s emphasis on sub-culture mythology, with a series of ill-informed rumours (all of them knocked down one after another) forming a good chunk of the characters’ inner landscape due to the absence of more reliable information.  (The final revelation perfectly fits into this motif.)  Does the world of the film hold together?  Absolutely not, but it doesn’t even try to address plausibility, betting instead on the real emotional core of the trio at the middle of the film.  Never Let Me Go will be a bit too slow and thin for some, but it’s a success in the same way that Atonement and other middle-brow character dramas can be.  Don’t let the “Science Fiction” label create false expectations…

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