Mark Romanek is obviously a very devious director. He read the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro and said “from the moment I finished the novel, it became my dream to film it.” The reason? “Never Let Me Go” is Oscar bait, concentrated down into a super-strength drama that has just enough intrigue and mystery to keep everybody happy.
In Ishiguro’s novel, from which the film will hopefully stay faithful, Kathy H (Carey Mulligan, who was nominated last year for her role in “An Education”) reminisces about her life so far. She recalls her time at the secluded boarding school Hailsham, where she became best friends with Ruth, played by Keira Knightly, and befriended hot-headed Tommy, acted out in the film by Andrew Garfield, who you might remember from the “Red Riding” series. After leaving the school, they go out together into the world that they’ve been sheltered from to truly understand their place in society and their own mortality.
Yes, it’s truly an epic drama with sci-fi tinges to lure in the panel at the Academy Awards. The book has just enough strange twists and occurrences to keep it from being just another overwrought emotional rollercoaster but whether Romanek can replicate this is a different matter. It would be too easy to fall into the trap of making it either too moody or too lightweight. Since his previous work includes the terribly creepy “One Hour Photo”, perhaps he really can juggle the two. We’ll just have to see whether or not to let it go.
“Never Let Me Go” is released in the UK in January, but the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro is available from all good bookstores. You can check out the US trailer below.