Early Buzz: Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go

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One of my highly anticipated films of 2010 is Mark Romanek's big screen adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel Never Let Me Go. The book was named one of TIME's 100 Best Novels (from 1923 to the Present), featured on many top ten books of 2005 lists, and a finalist in the National Book Critic Circle Award. For those interested, you can buy the softcover for only $11.20 on Amazon.

Beach author and 28 Days Later/Sunshine screenwriter Alex Garland penned the adaptation for the dramatic thriller, about a group of children who spent their childhood at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school, who as they "grow into young adults, they find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them." The film stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, Charlotte Rampling, Sally Hawkins, Nathalie Richard, and Andrea Riseborough. Watch the trailer here.

Over the past couple weeks, a few reviews have started to leak online. Read the early reactions after the jump.

Warning: The excerpts below are almost completely spoiler free. But be warned that the reviews linked are not. Anyone who has read the book and who has seen the trailer knows there are certain big surprises being kept from moviegoers. So, if you want to keep these surprises, don't read the full reviews.

The Obsertver's Very Short List:

For anyone who has read the 2005 Kazuo Ishiguro novel Never Let Me Go, the idea of a film adaptation seems far-fetched as best. But director Mark Romanek and screenwriter Alex Garland have managed to do it; Never Let Me Go (in select theaters 9/15) perfectly captures the novel's beauty and haunting poignancy. ... Try, if you can, to stay as spoiler-free before viewing.

The Daily Mail:

"In certain directorial and thespian hands, Ishiguro's work could have been turned into mawkish slop. But, with these actors, the film's a thing of rare beauty. ... Never Let Me Go is the most haunting film about love and death I've ever seen."

The Telegraph:

Never Let Me Go is a perfect example of British film at its very best; it's a sombre piece of work, yet its sheer quality will lift the gloomiest of spirits. ... The film, adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro's novel of the same name, stars three of our brightest young actors – Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley. All of them are still only in their mid-20s, yet they have a global reputation that is richly deserved. And all of them are outstanding in never Let Me Go. As such, this beautiful looking film is a perfect opener for the LFF, as the festival's artistic director Sandra Hebron observed yesterday. Describing it as "accomplished and imaginative," she added: "It combines impeccable film making, outstanding performances and a deeply moving story, and I couldn't wish for a stronger or more appropriate opening night." I couldn't agree more.

Reader review on AICN:

"Never Let Me Go" is more in the vein of Alfonso Cuaron's "Children of Men" meets a Merchant/Ivory film with romantic hints of Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner." Garland has adapted Ishiguro's story into a very fine dramatic, disturbing, sci-fi, tragic-love story while Romanek's direction cements those elements with a very mature eye. ... All the performances (from the young actors to the older actors) in the film are well rounded and Carey Mulligan as Kathy has a face that you can sink into and when the tragic love story comes to a head, you feel each and every tear that Kathy sheds. She deservedly earns the attention that is currently surrounding her career. Keira Knightley does a fine job as Ruth in a supporting part that gives her moments to flex her acting chops while integrating her beauty into the role. Andrew Garfield (a newcomer to stateside eyes, although great in the UK indie "Boy-A") gives Tommy an understated depth.... To be honest, I haven't felt like I did walking out of the theater since seeing P.T. Anderson's "There Will Be Blood." I can't help but think it will polarize audiences; there will be those who love it and those who will absolutely despise it."

Romanek is probably best known for his music video work. He directed the video for Michael and Janet Jackson's "Scream" in 1995, a sci-fi themed video which won the 1996 Grammy for Best Music Video, and to date, is still the most expensive music video ever produced ($7 million). His other videos include Closer for Nine Inch Nails, Criminal for Fiona Apple, Devil's Haircut for Beck, and Johnny Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt". In 2002, he made a wonderful indie thriller called One Hour Photo, which starred Robin Williams as an photo lab employee who becomes obsessed with a young suburban family (if you haven't seen it, netflix it!). The official plot synopsis follows:

In his highly acclaimed novel NEVER LET ME GO, Kazuo Ishiguro (THE REMAINS OF THE DAY) created a remarkable story of love, loss and hidden truths. In it he posed the fundamental question: What makes us human? Now director Mark Romanek (ONE HOUR PHOTO), writer Alex Garland and DNA Films bring Ishiguro's hauntingly poignant and emotional story to the screen. Kathy (Oscar® nominee Carey Mulligan, AN EDUCATION), Tommy (Andrew Garfield, BOY A, RED RIDING) and Ruth (Oscar® nominee Keira Knightley, PRIDE & PREJUDICE, ATONEMENT) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school and the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.

Never Let Me Go hits theaters on September 15h, 2010.


Never Let Me Go