Never Let Me Go

November 25th, 2010

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Never Let Me Go

Still of Alex Garland and Kazuo Ishiguro in Never Let Me GoStill of Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me GoAndrew Garfield at event of Never Let Me GoStill of Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Domhnall Gleeson and Andrea Riseborough in Never Let Me GoStill of Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me GoStill of Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield in Never Let Me Go

As children, Ruth, Kathy and Tommy, spend their childhood at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school...

Release Year: 2010

Rating: 7.2/10 (39,198 voted)

Critic's Score: 69/100

Director: Mark Romanek

Stars: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield

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.

Writers: Kazuo Ishiguro, Alex Garland

Carey Mulligan - Kathy
Andrew Garfield - Tommy
Izzy Meikle-Small - Young Kathy (as Isobel Meikle-Small)
Charlie Rowe - Young Tommy
Ella Purnell - Young Ruth
Charlotte Rampling - Miss Emily
Sally Hawkins - Miss Lucy
Kate Bowes Renna - Miss Geraldine
Hannah Sharp - Amanda
Christina Carrafiell - Laura
Oliver Parsons - Arthur
Luke Bryant - David
Fidelis Morgan - Matron
Damien Thomas - Doctor
Nathalie Richard - Madame


Official Website: Official site [Japan] | Official site [United States] |

Release Date: 25 November 2010

Filming Locations: Andrew Melville Hall, University of St Andrews, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, UK

Opening Weekend: $111,734 (USA) (19 September 2010) (4 Screens)

Gross: $2,412,045 (USA) (12 December 2010)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Carey Mulligan had to learn how to drive for this movie and did a two-week intensive course but failed the driving test. The production team had to shoot the scene on a private road, where she was allowed to get behind the wheel.

Continuity: In one shot the red Volvo estate that Rodney drives can clearly be seen to be an 'A' registration from 1983/4, yet in a later shot it's registration changes to 'G' meaning that the car was manufactured in 1989/1990.

[first lines]
Kathy: My name is Kathy H. I'm 28 years old. I've been a carer for nine years. And I'm good at my job. My patients always do better than expected, and are hardly ever classified as agitated, even if they're about to make a donation. I'm not trying to boast...

User Review

Beautiful, profound, moving

Rating: 10/10

Just ahead, I'll tell you how to know if you'll love or hate this movie (very few will be in between). But first, I'm always surprised to see people reading the novel, rushing to the movie, and then expressing disappointment with remarks such as, "there are gaping holes." A 2-hour movie is a 110-page screenplay, which means a 300-page novel becomes a 6-hour miniseries. Get Martin Scorcese, hire "Never Let Me Go" novelist Kazuo Ishiguro to write the screenplay, and cast it right, and you'll have a shot at making a miniseries that CAN be compared to the novel; otherwise, let's understand the limitation and let the film stand on its own. I didn't read Ishiguro's novel, and I found Mark Romanek's film (screenplay by Alex Garland) to be a beautiful, profound and complete meditation on life. It demonstrates the best and worst of human behavior, the beauty of undying love, and the heroism of accepting responsibility (or fate in this case). To me, the story is uplifting and memorable, in spite of its overall sad and melancholy tone. What's more, it's seamless, from the superb performances by Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield, to the near perfect direction by Romanek, to its gorgeous cinematography with muted color palette, to its precise wabi-sabi production design (the beauty of worn and broken things). But how can you know if you'll like this film or not?

Forget the Sci-Fi angle; it's insignificant except as a stepping-off point for a story that reveals great truths: That life is short, your choices have consequences, and at the end none of us may feel we've had enough time to love, or just get things right. But I can safely say... If you interpret your movies literally, you will not like this film. If you need action, a fast pace, explosions and special effects, you will not like this film. If your idea of a great movie is Inception, forget it.

On the other hand, if you can appreciate a fine story by Henry James, Edith Wharton, or Katherine Anne Porter, this film is made for you. If you enjoyed Todd Haynes' lovely melodrama, Far from Heaven, or Oren Moverman's powerful movie, The Messenger, or Tom Ford's poignant film, A Single Man, you'll love this picture. The story addresses themes of love, longing, jealousy, betrayal, courage, atonement, and perhaps most important "acceptance." The film also asks us to consider the "morality of science," and some might find this aspect chilling, but to me the larger human themes overwhelm this one.

When I saw Never Let Me Go, the theater was about one-third full, but probably one-third of these folks walked out by the half-way point. And, surprisingly, the couple sitting behind me got up and walked out 10 minutes before the end, once they were convinced (revealed by their groans) that the story would not have a happy ending. Apparently, they were looking for the "feel good movie of the year." Sadly, they missed the most extraordinary and beautiful ending -- most of the emotional power comes in that last 10 minutes -- but then I suppose they wouldn't have understood it. But to me, Never Let Me Go is the "feel good movie of the year," precisely because it tells the truth: life is beautiful because there are hopes and dreams, love and loss, tears and tragedies.

One final note: Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield are excellent in their roles, but Carey Mulligan is the standout -- she shows a wisdom and weariness far beyond her years, and handles difficult emotional material with a sublime restraint that makes the whole thing work. I feel we are witnessing the early work of the next Deborah Kerr, Sarah Miles, or Vanessa Redgrave.

This is an excellent film, one of the best of the year, and not to be missed by those who appreciate depth and literary quality.

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