05 January 2011

Filmbook: "Never Let Me Go" (2010)

For all the hype (I think I saw my first trailer 8 or 9 months ago) this was a little movie that disappeared with hardly a ripple in the early-fall wave of prestige pictures. One minute it's a showcase for a crop of soon-to-be-Oscar-nominees, the next it's a quiet adaptation that will probably be added to your parents' Netflix account and forgotten about. So it goes.

"Never Let Me Go" wasn't my favorite movie of 2010 (... so far while I continue to catch up on the year-end onslaught). Yet I can't stop thinking about its sunwashed pastoral landscapes and scenes which are most often underwritten, going against the adaptive grain. The trio of young actors as the students at Hailsham have great group chemistry and stand well on their own; it wasn't too long ago that Andrew Garfield's role in this movie was paired with his "Social Network" supporting turn in profile, while Mila Kunis sits in the Best Supporting Actress Globe chair that should have been Keira Knightley's. (You know it's true.) Mulligan has the most complicated turn, and the world's worst haircut under which to deliver it, but she's just as good as she was last year in "An Education," just not as showy.

Surprised as I was that the movie trailer gives away substantial plot information, I think its development in the movie itself is very subtle and well handled. (Trailer editors! They ruin everything that's good!) If you've read the book, if possible, rope someone in to watch who hasn't read the book. Normally I would advise all to start, but since there is no love lost between this particular Ishiguro and me, experiencing the suspense secondhand of not knowing how Ruth, Tommy and Kathy are being raised and what becomes of them is almost as intense as seeing it onscreen. A little safe overall, but it doesn't deserve to just disappear.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I hear there's always a tension between screenwriters and the people who make trailers. The screenwriters want to save the best scenes to reward people who actually go see the movie, whereas the people who make the trailers just want to make the most attractive trailer possible. So if you've seen the trailer for an action movie, you've already seen all the best explosions. (I can't take credit for that observation: I read about it in The New Yorker.)

Which means that I'm all the more impressed when I'm genuinely surprised by something in a movie I've seen a bazillion trailers for: Peter Jackson's King Kong, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and Star Trek all come to mind.