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NEW Mulligan/knightley/garfield - Never Let Me Go (Blu-ray)

5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning film March 4 2011
28-year old Kathy H. (Carey Mulligan) reminisces about her life, starting in her unique boarding school, Hailsham. The children were raised strictly but well-cared for and raised to know they have a valuable purpose in life. A distressed new teacher tells the children what that purpose is, but it seems they already know and accept it utterly. A childhood love triangle between Kathy and her classmates Ruth and Tommy has a lasting effect on the three; years later as they fulfill their destinies, Kathy is moved to ponder if they are really so different from everyone else.

I was completely shattered by this movie; it left me shocked and sad and very, very frightened. It's about a world in which people have extended life spans thanks to the likes of Kathy and her friends who comply with their inescapable duty, much to our horror. Mulligan, Knightly (Ruth), and Andrew Garfield (Tommy) are all wonderfully subtle and convincing. The script is clever and intriguing, and terrifying in its realism.

This is an exceptional sci-fi story similar in tone to "1984," and it's also a tender love story. If you're looking for a thought-provoking, well-made movie, you'll enjoy "Never Let Me Go."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Important, Thought-provoking Film March 2 2014
There is an instinct in us to fight for life and freedom, but there is also a learned reaction, instilled by fear over the years, to bow to authority. It is amazing how much supremacy people can passively accept. The filmmakers (and the novelist behind the story) are basically testing the water here, putting a brutal question to us: would YOU do things any differently? If your reply is a resounding "YES!" then you've made them feel a little better! Not many films like this get made. I was surprised, impressed and moved by this subtle yet brutal exploration of human nature and elitism. Wonderfully told, and based on many of the reactions it's received, I'd say it hit a nerve :)

The plot is explained elsewhere, but to keep it short, the first half centers around three friends at a boarding school and the second half when they have grown and are forced to donate organs (the purpose for which they were created and raised.) I strongly believe that every person should watch this film because its question is that important. However, this is certainly not a film for children or for the faint of heart. If you have a strong spirit, you should appreciate its intention. These issues must be raised.

5 stars for quality storytelling and for raising an important question in film.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-wrenching-ly Beautiful Dec 6 2011
By Sean
I knew what i was getting into prior to watching this but with that in mind everything of this movie grabbed me. The score, the actors, the setting and the themes all resonated with me. Could be one of the saddest movies I'll ever watch but it was also one of the most beautiful films I've ever watched.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, emotional and fantastic Aug. 23 2013
By Bernard
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
A powerful and emotional story that is superbly performed by Andrew, Carey and Knightly. It changed my perspective of live.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  215 reviews
115 of 124 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting And Elegant Treatise On Love And Life In A Dystopian Alternate Reality Oct. 5 2010
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Kazuo Ishiguro's hauntingly enigmatic novel "Never Let Me Go" is a challenging artistic work that requires its readers to decipher a mysterious story arc that is never fully unveiled in the text. It's complicated to describe, but the brilliance of the work is what it doesn't say--and this ambiguity, when all the pieces finally fall into place, reveal a unique and disturbing alternate reality. It's a difficult piece to conceptualize and adapt to a visual medium, so I was curious to see what director Mark Romanek and writer Alex Garland might bring to the table. Those hoping for a literal translation might, indeed, be disappointed in the film incarnation of "Never Let Me Go" which can't replicate the novel's precise and measured revelations. However, this lovely and thoughtful film does succeed in its own right as a heartbreaking examination on the nature of humanity.

"Never Let Me Go" does honor Ishiguro's novel in tone, pacing, and mood. Gentle and idyllic, but austere and bleak when necessary, this is a subtle film that requires and rewards patience. The film establishes, from the first frame, that we're embarking on a parallel timeline in which medical science is greatly advanced from our current world. In the British countryside, we meet three youths--Kathy (the film's narrator), Tommy and Ruth--at a tony boarding school named Hailsham. Hailsham students serve a special purpose and their entire existence is lived within the walls of the academy. The three friends form a love triangle of sorts with Kathy and Tommy seeming to be soul mates and Ruth becoming the romantic foil. A treatise on unrequited love, the film follows the kids to young adulthood as they leave the confines of Hailsham at eighteen before fulfilling their final destiny.

One of the complaints I've heard leveled at the book is that the characters remain ciphers, muted personalities that seem resigned to their fate. But ultimately, that's the point. Their lives are structured on one truth, one fate--it is an inherent fact of their being. Romanek and Garland understand that and don't choose to vary from the inevitability of the story. Even if there is hope to be found in true love, it is a fleeting and temporary solution at best. Carey Mulligan gives a quietly understated, yet incredibly persuasive, performance as Kathy. Keira Knightly has a brittle efficiency as Ruth and Andrew Garfield (Tommy) has a bewildered charm that is refreshing. They, as well as the young actors in the same roles, draw you into "Never Let You Go" and, even if it seems futile, gives you hope for a brighter tomorrow.

The film's ultimate message is "live the life you're given." In the end, none of us are so different. It's a powerful message told very quietly. The film doesn't explicitly announce how you should feel, it allows viewers to fill in many of the gaps on their own. Very adult, very sophisticated, and very sad--"Never Let Me Go" isn't a perfect film--if anything it might be too reverent, too detached. But this is a thoughtful and ambitious adaptation that works on its own merits. KGHarris, 10.10
73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What would we do for more life? Oct. 21 2010
By Muzzlehatch - Published on Amazon.com
First of all, I haven't read the 2005 novel by Kazuo Ishigiro that this film is based on, nor did I know much of anything about it apart from the basics (dystopian English alternate-world story) before seeing the film. So the few problems I mention or areas that I feel the film is deficient in dealing with are wholly a product of my experience with the movie - I suspect that some of these issues might be less problematic in the novel. As you can see from my rating and review, I think the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Second of all, if you know even less than I did, be prepared for **SPOILERS**

All that out of the way, what we have here is a story taking place in a roughly contemporary (1978-94) England, a country (and presumably, world) radically changed by medical advances that did not happen in our world. Or...maybe. The most fascinating element of this film to me, and I'm sure the most infuriating to many viewers, is that we never get a really clear picture as to just what the technology is, how things have changed. The focus here is not on technology, on the science fictional aspects, on gadgetry or medicine. We get a few references to cloning, but never any details; we learn fairly quickly that the children we're introduced to at the Hailsham boarding school have a "special" destiny, and the film follows three of them in particular, one of whom, Kathy (Izzy Meikle-Small as a child/Carey Mulligan as an adult) narrates the film from 1994 at around the age of 30.

Kathy, her companions Tommy (Charlie Rowe/Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Ella Purnell/Keira Knightley) are all being raised in a comfortable, serene - almost idyllic - countryside school to face a very particular and peculiar destiny. We get several hints early on - but only get the full heartbreaking story from a sympathetic (and summarily dismissed) young teacher named Lucy (Sally Hawkins): the children are all clones who will be harvested for their organs before the age of 30, dying typically after their third or fourth "donation". Lucy delivers the news with compassion and sadness; the rest of society, including the leaders of the school and apparently virtually all donors, have simply accepted this new world order, for the sake of the longer lives (we're told in a brief script at the beginning of the film that the average lifespan has passed 100) and comfort it has given them. The donors are essentially regarded as cattle. Eventually they move on from the school to "The Cottages" a few years later in the second third of the film, as the forward and vivacious Ruth has taken up with the awkward and introverted Tommy, which Kathy considered becoming a "Carer", helping to take care of the donors before she herself becomes one. In the last third of the film, 1994, all three confront their inevitable destinies.

In most such visions, the story would be about attempts to escape the repressive regime, or overthrow it. The genius and heartbreak of NEVER LET ME GO is that it shows a society - or a very tiny portion of one - that is completely conditioned to the way things are now; nobody even dreams of running away or changing things, and the idea of there being an ethical dilemma is never actually broached by any character until quite near the end of the film. This was, I'll admit, something of a problem for me as I was watching the film - it's really quite hard to take the blind acceptance of such an awful fate on the part of everyone; but I think that Ishiguro and the filmmakers here are making a statement that only seems unrealistic if we forget the history of the last century. I do have a slight problem with the notion that things could have happened so very quickly in a democracy like England, but if we look at something like Orwell's "1984" - set 35 years after its publication - as a model, we shouldn't be surprised. The English dystopian vision has always seemed a particularly mordant and immediate one. And setting the film in essentially our time also allows it to be made much more cheaply - it's "science fiction" certainly, but it doesn't require the kinds of sets and effects that we usually think of the genre as having nowadays.

I think that another factor that is going to be problematic for many is that we just see a very small fraction of this society, which must be so very different in many aspects but which looks essentially the same to we viewers. We are kept in the presence of our three main characters throughout, and we never see the recipients of any of these peoples' "gifts"; we never encounter the government; we never hear anyone from outside of their little world express an opinion. For me this helped keep the exquisite sadness and intensity of the growing sense of loss that these young people had fresh and vivid throughout, and without encumbering the actual film with external voices, we are allowed to consider all the ethical ramifications and meanings of this changed world entirely on our own. The donors could be read as metaphors for slavery; for how we treat animals; for abortion; for the place of women in a man's world; in short, for any way in which the rulers and the majority of a society have treated and continue to treat those without any power. There are several moments where the word "soul" is used - though the film has no visible religious agenda, the notion is that the idea of living organ donation is perhaps accepted because the clones are viewed as not having souls, as not being fully human - an argument that was made not so long ago about other kinds of people in the world we live in.

The acting and nearly everything about the production is pretty impressive; director Romanek has just made two previous features, ONE HOUR PHOTO and STATIC, over the past 15 years. I haven't seen either of those, but he has a sure hand here, putting together Alex Garland's screenplay and the performances of the fine ensemble with a minimum of sentimentality or lingering, overt emotion - which if anything serves to increase the power of the storytelling and the ultimate tragedy of the piece. Rachel Portman's music is very low-key, repetetive, insistent; at first it irritated me a bit, but gradually it grew on me, mirroring the ultimately dead-end, resigned lives of the protaganists. Of the cast I have to single out Carey Mulligan, who seems likely to get some of the same kind of awards talk she did a year ago when she burst on the scene in An Education. She has to communicate a calmness, empathy, resignation and yet a flicker of never-ending internal determination and purpose throughout the film, and I don't know that many actresses could have managed.

As Orson Welles once said about Make Way for Tomorrow, another heartbreaker about the inevitability of fate, it would make a stone cry. One of the best of 2010 - don't miss it.
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even More Moving the Second Time Jan. 13 2011
By Joshua Miller - Published on Amazon.com
"The breakthrough in medical science came in 1952
Doctors could now cure the previous incurable
By 1967, life expectancy passed 100 years"

And so begins Never Let Me Go, a downbeat adaptation of a book I've never had the pleasure of reading by Kazuo Ishiguro. This film is an exercise in understatement; rarely have I seen a film that's so emotional and yet avoids bravado and manages to depict these emotions in such a gentle way. This is no straight-forward drama and there's an unconventional element to the story that I feel would be best to keep secret from the potential viewer. Unfortunately, it's difficult to discuss/critique the film without disclosing that element. With that said, the secret comes out very early into the movie so don't feel that I'm spoiling anything for you.

Besides a brief opening scene, the film opens in 1978 at a boarding school called Hailsham. While headmistress Miss Emily (Charlotte Rampling) gives her daily announcement to the students, it becomes clear that Hailsham is not the typical boarding school. The health of the students is greatly important and the students' existence is a sheltered one, completely cut off from the world outside the boundaries of the school. Students are at the age where romantic ideals begin to blossom and young Kathy H. takes a liking to a boy named Tommy. Those wondering what the purpose of Hailsham is don't have to wait very long as a disenchanted guardian named Miss Lucy (Sally Hawkins) soon enlightens them that their purpose is to grow up and donate their vital organs before their "short-life" will be completed. As this chapter of the film comes to a close, Kathy watches her friend Ruth and Tommy grow close. These childhood scenes are handled with great sentiment, but also with great austerity.

The next two segments take place in 1985 and then 1994, where Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield take on the roles of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy. This second part takes place at The Cottages, where the three Hailsham students have their first contact with the outside world and their sexual awareness comes to full fruition. It's here that we learn a bit more about the students' purpose, as well as watch some characters struggle with their already pre-determined fate. "Completion," the third part of the film is arguably the most tragic where hope and optimism leads to sad acceptance.

Despite being only 103 minutes, Never Let Me Go manages to tell a pretty full story and show characters completely evolve from naïve children to naïve, but optimistic adults. Watching these characters evolve is heartbreaking and the way the film burrows into your emotional center with such quiet nuance is astounding. Rarely do elements fall together so perfectly in a film that they completely immerse you in what you're watching and in it's own a soft, sad way this film absolutely casts a spell. This is not a film that will appeal to a wide audience, but I personally found it to be quite masterful.

The film's score by Rachel Portman is one of the most effective musical scores I've heard in 2010. The music evokes such sadness it becomes a key element to the success of the film as a whole. The picturesque photography by cinematographer Adam Kimmel is poetic and beautiful, static yet graceful and adds an additional level of poignancy that the screenwriter could not have foreseen.

As for acting, we get to watch three very promising young actors do some wonderful work. The most surprising is Keira Knightley who gives such an honest portrayal I forgot I was watching Knightley. Ditching any glamor or sharp-tongued wit, she plays the insecure, jealous, and frightened Ruth marvelously. Garfield continues to establish himself as one of the strongest up-and-coming actors at work today. He gets such pathos out of his mix of sadness and optimism; Watch Garfield's face as he learns the truth about deferrals and the way his expression quietly goes from hopefulness to helplessness. Contrast this with his acclaimed performance in The Social Network and you have an actor building an impressive body of work. Meanwhile, Carey Mulligan continues to prove that she is something special and refreshing in the film industry. What an elegant, immensely talented actress she is and her work here is brilliant. Mulligan is a true actress, something Hollywood is lacking these days and her performance here is so powerful, yet completely low-key.

There is something so brave and unexpected about taking a premise rooted in science-fiction and, in doing so, making a deeply moving human drama and a profound, meditative statement on life, death, and humanity. Again, I've never read the book but I wonder if the book is as much of an emotional journey as the film. I would never call this film "uplifting," but the tragic, beautiful ending is one of the most life-affirming endings of 2010.

Never Let Me Go had much more of an impact the second time I watched it. It seemed more heartbreaking, more poignant, more powerful, and more beautiful than it did the first time. It's a deeply emotional viewing experience that gripped my emotions in a way few films have. While highly praised by some critics, it's been largely overshadowed by other films of 2010. Never Let Me Go is as elegant, thought-provoking, and moving as films can get. It's undoubtedly one of the best films of 2010.

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Movie of 2010 April 17 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As a 35 year-old-male with stage-4 cancer, I was easily able to relate to the three main characters in this film. The thing that I got from the movie was that it was not the issue of death itself that affected the characters, it was the feeling that there was no time to make up for past mistakes. A great feeling of guilt and regret along with the knowledge that the friendship would soon be over gave the film an even more emotional element not seen in other films. I cannot think of any other movie that has had the emotional effect on me that this one has. The day I received the movie, I watched it twice and promptly put the DVD back into the mailbox so I would not watch it again. Later that night while I was lying in my bed, I started thinking about the movie. Then I started to cry, something I had not done in a very long time. No movie had ever given me the reaction that this one did. "Never Let Me Go" is a movie I would recommend to everyone.
57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Children with Special Deeds Sept. 15 2010
By Chris Pandolfi - Published on Amazon.com
Walking out of "Never Let Me Go," I felt as if I had experienced a death. This isn't to suggest that the film pushed me away. If anything, I was deeply drawn in, entirely taken by the sheer power it had on me emotionally. I'm fairly certain I wasn't the only one; I sensed solemnity in the audience I sat with, the profound feelings of shock, loss, grief, anger, and helplessness. The film projects all that, as if saying, "It's not fair. It shouldn't have to be this way." At the same time, the film also projects profound feelings of resignation, as if saying, "Life isn't fair, and it doesn't matter what should or shouldn't be - that's just the way it is." Perhaps so, but that doesn't make it any easier. This movie haunted me, and I don't mean that I was frightened or repulsed; its themes, its characters, and its plot have a lasting effect, the ability to move us in the most personal of ways.

Adapted from the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (best known for "The Remains of the Day"), "Never Let Me Go" takes place in an alternate universe, where medical science achieved what was thought to be impossible; in 1952, all previously incurable diseases could be cured, allowing for the average life expectancy to increase to over 100 years by 1967. But how did such a thing happen? The opening title card is intentionally vague on the specifics - all it says is that it was the result of a "medical breakthrough." With that in mind, we plunge into the story proper, which begins in 1978 at Hailsham, a charming-looking but isolated British boarding school surrounded by miles of open fields. The children and teenagers who attend know absolutely nothing of the outside world. They wouldn't dream of leaving; they've all heard horror stories about those who have crossed over the fence.

They've also heard repeatedly from headmistress Miss Emily (Charlotte Rampling) that they're all special. What exactly does this mean? We gradually come to understand, although hints are dropped all throughout the opening section. Consider the fact that every student wears a special bracelet, one they must pass over a mechanical device whenever they reenter the school building. Also consider that every student has no last name other than an initial. And then consider a lecture given by the ever observant Miss Lucy (Sally Hawkins), one in which she sorrowfully explains to the students that, while most children can grow up and be anything they want, they will never be anything; their paths have already been chosen for them. Do the students understand this? They may hear the words, but I imagine it would be difficult for them to fully grasp their meaning, especially when the only world they've ever known has been the grounds of a boarding school.

Emphasis is placed on artistic achievement, specifically poetry, drama, music, and - most importantly - drawing and painting. The best pieces are chosen by an elusive figure known as Madame to be displayed a section of the school called The Gallery. They're encouraged to participate in sports and eat a healthy diet. They earn colored tokens, each having monetary value; every so often, they can use their tokens to buy assorted knick knacks, all delivered to Hailsham via truck.

Three students are introduced: Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy. As adolescents (played by Isobel Meikle-Small, Ella Purnell, and Charlie Rowe respectively), they dutifully engage in strict regiment, although they also develop as individuals, forming a close friendship in spite of the cliques students are often separated by. Kathy is observant and calm. Ruth is bold and opinionated. Tommy is a shy boy who isn't as creatively inclined and is picked on by other boys. As adults in 1985 (played by Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield respectively), tensions rise when they're sent to a residential community that grants them more exposure to the outside world; not only do they not know how to cope in such a place (they're incapable, for example, of deciding for themselves what to order in a restaurant), they're also at odds over their needs and desires, Tommy's physical attraction to Ruth seemingly upstaged by his emotional attraction to Kathy.

The film ends in 1994, at which point Kathy has become a Carer and has been separated from Ruth and Tommy for years. I dare not reveal what a Carer is, nor should I say anything more about Ruth and Tommy, for their fates are too attached to the secret the story revolves around. It's revealed not as a surprise twist but rather as a disturbingly slow unfolding of events, all of which lead to a devastating conclusion. This in itself very easily could have been weepy and melodramatic, but director Mark Romanek and screenwriter Alex Garland instead opted to handle it with a fascinating sense of acceptance - sad, but inescapable, like death. Therein lies the tragedy of "Never Let Me Go"; it's about the certainty of one's existence, the inability to alter the outcome, the painful moments of letting illusions go and facing reality.
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