Life is precious and fragile, and most of the time, we take it for granted. We fail to see that life is limitless, because we create arbitrary boundaries for ourselves, which stifle our true potential. We settle for the commonplace, and lie to ourselves by believing that this is all that there is. Most individuals will never break away from the traps that they have set up for themselves, and they will never know true freedom. However, some do find the will to escape, to be free, to grasp at a possible alternative. Some live their entire lives this way, and for others, it may only be a moment – but it is better to have had that one moment of true liberty, than to have lived your whole life without it.
Never Let Me Go is about all of this and more. It is a film that you will never forget, and as you leave the theatre, you should have a renewed appreciation for the intricacies of life. It is a somber experience unlike anything that you have seen in quite some time, but it is that emotional punch that drives the film.
This film relies heavily on its secrets, in order to be effective. The film opens in an alternate, dystopian world at Hailsham, an English boarding school for young boys and girls. Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy have been best friends for quite sometime, and as a result, the quiet, reserved Kathy has developed an innocent crush on Tommy, a timid young man prone to random fits of rage. Meanwhile, headstrong Ruth sets out to garner the young man’s affections. Young Kathy is heartbroken, but carries on. One day, while the children are in class, their schoolteacher suddenly breaks into tears. She pulls the blinders from their eyes, and reveals the harsh realities regarding their strict upbringing at Hailsham. It turns out that these children have been consigned to an unspeakable fate, which will alter their lives forever. After this revelation – which costs the teacher her job – we move forward in time, as Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy weave in and out of each others lives, as the threat of the inevitable hangs ceaselessly over their heads.
This is a film that will grab you from start to finish. At one hour and forty-two minutes, this film runs the entire scope of human emotion. You care for these characters, and you feel as if you know them. You want to see them live; you want them to run, to escape, to own their lives. You want them to realize that there are no boundaries – that they were never there to begin with.
This film was directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo). He handles the material with such respect and delicacy, and as a result, he allows us to connect emotionally with what we see. Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, and Andrew Garfield truly live inside of these characters. Their strengths and weaknesses are up on the screen on full display for all to see. You will never forget these characters. You will never forget this film. This is truly one of the best films of 2010.