Monday, October 25, 2010

Short Rants on Never Let Me Go

Dave's review of this film was spot-on, but I had a few assorted thoughts I wanted to add. I read the original novel earlier this year and was not a fan. I felt the novel's theme of what it means to be human poorly developed, the cyclical narration maddening and the build-up to the big "reveal" a complete disappointment. I went into the movie with considerably lowered expectations, but, as Dave said so well, the novel and the film are totally different beasts, each with their own unique problems. Mark Romanek's film starts off on the wrong foot with some of the most horrid, ineffectual child actors I've seen since, possibly, The Blind Side. There's a scene where Young Carey Mulligan and Young Andrew Garfield are out walking around the grounds of Halisham, the provincial school the main characters attend. The director obviously told them to walk around naturally but, much in the same way when someone tells you not to think about sex and, even if you weren't thinking of that before, that's all you can think of now, the kids walk around in the least natural way possible. The kids are so self-conscious throughout, realizing that this is "serious," "important" cinema and acting accordingly. At one point, Young Keira Knightley has such a maliciously evil look on her face, you'd think she's just biding her time until someone decides to revive The Children's Hour. As the film wears on and the kids grow up to their adult versions, Never Let Me Go pretty much abandons most of the original novel's main themes to, in the manner of a 1930's MGM adaptation of an important novel, pursue a complicated love triangle between the three leads. The decision isn't a deal breaker as it's reasonably well done and the final scene is quite touching, but it's hardly the film I should be watching when there are far more interesting themes and ideas that are briefly touched upon but never explored. What I feel both the novel and the film completely miss the mark on is the whole nature vs. nurture debate. These characters have lived under a rigid structure all of their life and have been taught to fear breaking the rules. But the whole point of the story is to prove that these people are people with souls, so why is there no one who ever decided to rebel against the system and live their own life? Every one of these people accept their fate with nary a shrug since they have been taught that their whole life and I understand this. But these people all have their own personalities and no matter the rigidness of their upbringing, there is bound to be someone who breaks the rules. This may not be what the author or filmmaker have wanted to discuss, but I feel like it needed to be brought up to make some sense out of underdeveloped themes. C+

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