Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Movie Review: Never Let Me Go (by Dave Machado)

Never Let Me Go is, in very simple terms, an art-house science fiction movie. This is not the science fiction most people are used to though. It is a very subdued movie that takes place in an alternate history where scientists in the mid 20th Century were able to increase the life expectancy of humans to well past 100 years old. It begins very innocently enough, following the lives of three young children who are growing up in a sort of boarding school. We see hints that these children are not treated like normal kids (certain adults seem to act strangely uncomfortable around them) but there is nothing explicitly stated that suggests there is something wrong. It isn't until about 20 minutes in that we learn the role these kids have in society (as told to them by a teacher, who is promptly fired) and from there the movie is able to explore the very interesting themes of mortality and the roles humans have in their own fate.

If you do not want to be spoiled of the 1st act twist, I suggest you stop reading now and just now that I recommend seeing the movie though it can get a bit dry at times. 

What the teacher ends up informing the students is that their plan in life has already been decided for them. They are to be raised in this home and once they reach young adulthood, they will donate their organs one-by-one to other living humans as a way to help keep up the newly high life expectancy.  The children will simply donate themselves piece by piece until they "complete", which is the PC way of telling them they will give their parts until their body can no longer handle it and they die. I love the movie's decision to have us be told of this the same time the children themselves are hearing it. It allows us to feel the same shock they do and it makes for a very heartbreaking scene.

The movie then skips ahead roughly ten years and the three children have grown up into Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield. We then follow these three as they are wrestling with the knowledge that their time to begin donating is not too far behind. We learn there are myths about ways to prolong your first donation but are never sure what to believe. I expected the movie to become a chase flick with some of the children taking fate into their own hands but that is not what this movie is about. It's about knowing what your life is set up to be and the sad realization that you have no other alternative.

I will not spoil the second half of the movie but it is a very powerful story that won't soon be forgotten. I have some problems with the pacing and the lack of subtly at times but it really is a movie that people should watch. The performances of the three leads are great. After this and The Social Network, I am very excited that Garfield will be lacing up as the new Spiderman. I hold Carey Mulligan in a similar regard as I have only seen her in two movies but she has been incredible in both so I look forward to seeing her in more things very soon (though her inclusion was not enough to get me to see the new Wall Street. Not even Josh Brolin could get me in that theater). Never Let Me Go is a quiet movie that seems to grow louder the more I think of it. The ideas the movie puts forth slowly creep up on you well after the movie finishes, something I wish happened in more cases. I hope you all enjoy this movie as much as I did because I wouldn't be surprised if you started hearing about it more come Oscar season.

You're Welcome,

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