Never Let Me Go (2010 film)

Never Let Me Go
Neverletmegoposterquad.jpg
UK theatrical release banner
Directed byMark Romanek
Produced by
Screenplay byAlex Garland
Based onNever Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Starring
Narrated byCarey Mulligan
Music byRachel Portman
CinematographyAdam Kimmel
Edited byBarney Pilling
Production
company
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
BudgetUS$15 million[1]
Box officeUS$9.46 million[1]

Never Let Me Go is a 2010 British dystopian romantic tragedy film based on Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel Never Let Me Go. The film was directed by Mark Romanek from a screenplay by Alex Garland. Never Let Me Go is set in an alternative history and centres on Kathy, Ruth and Tommy portrayed by Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield respectively, who become entangled in a love triangle. Principal photography began in April 2009 and lasted several weeks. The movie was filmed at various locations, including Andrew Melville Hall. The film was produced by DNA Films and Film4 on a US$15 million budget.

Prior to the book's publication, Garland had approached the film's producers—Andrew Macdonald and Andrew Reich—about a possible film, and wrote a 96-page script. The producers initially had trouble finding an actress to play Kathy. Mulligan was cast in the role after Peter Rice, the head of the company financing the film, recommended her by text message while watching her performance in An Education. Mulligan, a fan of the book, enthusiastically accepted the role, as it had long been a wish of hers to have the opportunity to play the part. The film's message and themes were the factors that attracted Garfield to become a part of the film.

Never Let Me Go premiered at the 37th annual Telluride Film Festival in September 2010, where the audience responded positively to its message. The film was also screened at festivals including the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, and the 54th London Film Festival which it opened. The film was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures to cinemas in the United States on 15 September 2010, where it was given a limited release. It opened on 14 January 2011 in the United Kingdom. In the United States, Never Let Me Go opened at four theatres, grossing over US$111,000 during its first weekend. The movie got off to a better start in its first weekend in the UK, earning £625,000 and taking ninth place at the box office.

Never Let Me Go earned US$9.5 million at the box office and an additional US$1.89 million in DVD sales revenue. Never Let Me Go was met with generally positive reviews from film critics, with most reviewers praising the cast's performances.

Plot

The film begins with on-screen captions explaining that a medical breakthrough in 1952 has permitted the human lifespan to be extended beyond 100 years. It is narrated by 28-year-old Kathy H as she reminisces about her life at a boarding school called Hailsham, as well as her life after leaving the school. The first act of the film depicts the young Kathy, along with her friends Tommy and Ruth, spending their time at Hailsham in 1978. The students are encouraged to create artwork, and their best work gets into The Gallery run by a mysterious woman known only as Madame. One day, a new teacher, Miss Lucy, quietly informs the students of their fate: they are destined to be organ donors and will die, or "complete". Shortly afterward she is fired by the headmistress, Miss Emily, for sharing this revelation with the children. As time passes, Kathy falls in love with Tommy, but Ruth and Tommy begin a relationship and stay together throughout the rest of their time at Hailsham.

In the second act, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, now olders, are rehoused in cottages on a farm in 1985. They are permitted to leave the grounds on day trips, but are resigned to their eventual fate. At the farm, they meet former pupils of schools similar to theirs, and it is revealed that they are all clones. They also hear rumours of the possibility of "deferral" – a temporary reprieve from organ donation for donors who are in love and can prove it. Tommy becomes convinced that The Gallery at Hailsham was intended to look into their souls and that artwork sent to The Gallery will be able to confirm true love where it is present. The relationship between Tommy and Ruth becomes sexual, and jealousy causes Kathy and Ruth to break their friendship. The lonely Kathy leaves and becomes a "carer" – a donor who is given a temporary reprieve from donation as a reward for supporting and comforting donors as they are made to give up their organs. Tommy and Ruth's relationship ends.

In the third and final act, in 1994, Kathy is still working as a carer, and has watched many donors gradually die as their organs are harvested. Kathy, who has not seen Ruth or Tommy since the farm, discovers Ruth, frail after two donations. They find Tommy, who is also weakened by his donations, and drive to the sea. There, Ruth admits that she did not love Tommy, and only seduced him because she was afraid to be alone. She is consumed with guilt and has been searching for a way to help Tommy and Kathy. She believes that the rumours of "deferral" are true, and has found the address of the gallery owner, Madame, who she thinks may grant deferrals to couples in love. Ruth dies on the operating table shortly afterward.

Kathy and Tommy finally begin a relationship. Tommy explains to Kathy that he has been creating art in the hope that it will aid deferral. He and Kathy drive to visit Madame, who lives with the headmistress of Hailsham. The two teachers tell them that there is no such thing as deferral, and that Tommy's artworks will not help him. They explain that the purpose of The Gallery was not to look into their souls but to investigate whether the "all but human" donors even have souls at all; Hailsham was the last place to consider the ethical implications of the donor scheme. As they take in the news on their return journey, Tommy breaks down in an explosion of rage and frustration, and he and Kathy cling to each other in grief. Tommy completes his final donation and dies on the operating table, leaving Kathy alone, waiting for her donations to begin in a month. Contemplating the ruins of her existence, she asks in voice-over whether her fate is really any different from the people who will receive her organs; after all, "we all complete".