Never Let Me Go

I have not read Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go. But I’ve heard good things, and after seeing the film version, I’m pretty certain the novel’s wide acclaim is well-deserved. If the book is at all as haunting, poetic, and profound as the film, I can definitely see what all the hype was about.

Never Let Me Go is a film that sticks with you, packing a punch perhaps more in remembrance than in the actual experience of watching it. It’s a startling, unexpected film, mostly in the matter-of-fact manner of its genre-bending exposition. It’s a love story set against a sci-fi backdrop, with the elegance of an Austen novel and the quietly somber mood of an Ozu film. It’s a jarring experience, and a profoundly moving one.

I reviewed the film for Christianity Today, which you can read in full here. Here’s how my review starts:

Never Let Me Go is one of those films that feels deceptively simple or perhaps too abrupt on first viewing, but which broadens and deepens and sticks around in memory long after you leave the theater. The film, directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) and based on the highly acclaimed novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day), is a genre-bending, tender, and provocative gem that should provide plenty of discussion fodder for thoughtful filmgoers.

The story begins at Hailsham, a boarding school somewhere in rural England, full of beautiful, cheerful children who paint pictures in classrooms, play cricket in the field, and sing songs about how great Hailsham is. It’s an idyllic community, but something feels off. The students don’t seem quite normal (and why no mention of any parents?). One day a rogue teacher, Miss Lucy (Sally Hawkins), speaks up and gravely informs the students in her class that none of them will grow up to be actors, artists, teachers, or anything. None of them will live past adulthood. Miss Lucy is immediately fired, but the secrets of Hailsham can’t be hid forever. As the students grow older, they learn the truth of what Miss Lucy alluded to.

(Read the rest of the review here)

2 responses to “Never Let Me Go

  1. A more artsy version of The Island (minus big explosions and Steve Buscemi)?

  2. I read the novel several years ago on a flight back from Europe, and it affected me quite a bit. The plot is eerie and does indeed raise those questions, “What is it to be human?”

    You’ve written a great review for CT. Looking forward to seeing the film version soon.

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