Those who saw this film in theaters were likely surprised by the film they received. Granted the film barely had an audience during its small (barely over 230 theaters) run, but those who saw Keira Knightly’s face on the posters or Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan bumping heads likely thought it was another love story that would test their patience (how many times can we watch Knightly fall in love exactly?). Those of us (myself included) who strapped themselves in for another run of the mill love story ended up with something much, much different—although the love angle was kept alive in some fashion, it was definitely a much more depressing and dystopian film than what was expected.
As children, Ruth, Kathy and Tommy, spend their childhood at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. As they grow into young adults, they find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them.
There’s a kind of Philip K. Dick atmosphere about this film; or even a Children of Me vibe…it really just mixes in an incredible amount of bleakness for one film that it’s hard to understand how you could possibly enjoy something so indisputably depressing. But I did…I really did enjoy this film, although I don’t know if it’s just because it threw me for such a loop that I didn’t see the “twist” coming (although reading one of the official descriptions from Fox drops the bombshell right in it) or what, but it was definitely an interesting idea to ponder as well as a really emotionally devastating film to witness.
Those who are intrigued by what I’ve written so far and don’t want the rest spoiled should turn away now as it’s impossible to review this film without mentioning it: the film takes place in what appears to be a present-day society, but actually turns out to be a dystopian vision of Britain in which humans are cloned for donor organs. Our lead characters are educated and then dealt the stunning realization that they are clones who must submit to their inevitable death, as that is what they were made to do. It’s really just a depressing notion to wrap your head around, but it’s also kind of beautiful because these individuals are taught how important it is to love and act on feelings rather than wait and mull it over. It does, of course, make for some scenes that hard to watch or get a grip on but that’s part of what makes the film so interesting to watch in the first place.
Obviously you can create a world, story, and characters and it can still be unbelievably dry and disappointing (Children of Men was that way for me—I thought the story was intriguing, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t bored watching it), but this films relatively abbreviated run time for such deep material helped it flow better. On top of that our lead actors were really top notch and are truly the only people you’re really guaranteed to recognize in this film; the rest are all actors that look vaguely familiar but not enough that you can place them in anything specific. I love when that happens because then I have less of a chance of guessing or deciding where the story will be taking me—and with such an unexpected turn of events in this film, it’s easy to get thrown around. It’s definitely an emotional film and while the chances of you making it through feeling any kind of happiness are incredibly slim, it’s just the kind of film that sticks with you because it’s so deeply moving.
This film is definitely not for everyone but those that can enjoy such a movie now and then will find it to be a Recommended outing.
Fox releases Never Let Me Go in single disc Elite Blu-ray case without any fancy frills about it. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and…well, that’s it. The AVC encoded presentation accurately portrays the films murky and frequently dank and depressing visuals, which means that you get quite a bit of gray skies and rainy days that accurately portrays the films intention. Amidst all that is an incredible amount of detail on faces, clothing, buildings, outdoors…pretty much any surface or texture you can think of is accurately represented here in impeccable detail. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is pretty quiet in the surrounds, but delivers all of the dialogue out of the front channels with extreme clarity. It’s a fairly quiet film aside from a few scenes so don’t expect a reawakening of your home theater setup with this one—though the clarity that Blu-ray offers in both the audio and visual department is still a boon to have.
The Secrets of Never Let Me Go
Director Mark Romanek’s On-Set Photography
National Donor Programme & Hailsham Campaign Graphics
I’d hoped for a commentary, but no dice—only a few featurettes that amount to less than an hour of exposition. Still, the “Secrets” documentary is a nice delving into its making and considering how low-budget and low-grossing this movie was, I’m not surprised this isn’t a more packed release in terms of extras.
Overall a Recommended disc, although the amount of times you’ll be in the mood to rewatch it is probably minimal.
Never Let Me Go is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.