Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

Format: Cinema

Release date: 11 February 2011

Venues: nationwide

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Director: Mark Romanek

Writer: Alex Garland

Based on the novel by: Kazuo Ishiguro

Cast: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield

UK/USA 2010

103 mins

Alex Garland writes a screenplay based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, Mark Romanek directs. A slow-burning nightmare, as a strange boarding school in a timeless limbo England raises children for a sinister purpose. It’s a film about the evils that can be concealed behind politeness and bureaucracy, and the horrors society is prepared to tolerate if it suits our purposes.

If I was the ridiculous smart arse that I clearly am I’d try to draw parallels between the film’s theme, where official euphemisms (‘donors’, ‘completion’ etc) are used to make all manner of nastiness acceptable, and the film itself, where a quality cast, a string quartet soundtrack and a little cinematic restraint can be seen to be covering up the fact that this is essentially The Clonus Horror/The Island with a university degree.

This review was first published as part of our coverage of the 2010 London Film Festival.

But I won’t, because it’s actually pretty bloody good, the tastefulness and restraint making the nasty stuff all the more horrible and moving. Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley and Charlotte Rampling all do good work, Carey Mulligan is great. I think the film loses something and becomes more clearly an adaptation of a novel after it leaves the weird bubble of Hailsham House. But it still weaves a disconcerting spell.

Mark Stafford

Watch the trailer: