If a movie can move me to tears at the most unexpected of places (for the right reasons, obviously), then someone has done something right. In the case of Never Let Me Go, I’m pretty sure it was Carey Mulligan and her performance, and Alex Garland and his screenplay.
Alex Garland’s adaptation kind of made me forget the book. Which was good. I was worried I’d be constantly thinking about what happened in the book, and how they’d changed it and how it was all horribly wrong. And thankfully it was the opposite.
I had started reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel a few years back, but didn’t quite get it, and so gave up a few chapters in. When I heard that Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan were going to be in the big screen adaptation, I decided to give it another go, and I loved it. Its up there amongst my favourite books, have been so excited about seeing the film since finishing it.
After seeing Carey Mulligan in An Education (at the London Film Festival last year), Brothers, and the quite unknown-but-quite-good The Greatest (with Pierce Brosnan and Aaron Johnson), I had a pretty good idea what her Kathy would be like. Same with Keira Knightley, having seen most of her work, her Ruth is how I had imagined the character to be when I read the book (the time I finished it). Andrew Garfield, on the other hand, I did not know at all, and his Tommy was a little different to what I had imagined. I don’t know why, but when reading the book, I found myself making Tommy a bit like me, whereas the in the film he wasn’t. For me, my version of Tommy will always be there in the book, but on screen I loved what Andrew Garfield did with him. It made a lot more sense, and especially his relationship with Ruth worked a lot more in the film that it did in the book, in my opinion.
Visually, the film is absolutely stunning. Cinematography and the locations are perfect. I also loved how, where usually a film would fade to black, it went for a colour. Nothing bright or bold, very soft sober shades of beiges and browns, and once even green, I think.
So yes, I “got something in my eye” a number of times, and yes I loved it, (and not just because Keira Knightley was in it). Even though I highly recommend reading the novel (because its great), you can still enjoy and appreciate the movie without it.