Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed novel, the film stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield in this story of human love and tragedy. It follows them as they advance from being childhood friends, to odd rivals, to individuals sharing a common sorrow. Beautifully subdued and restrained, it makes minimal use of dialogue, instead relying mostly on atmosphere to evoke or express emotion.
I read the book first because I didn’t want to spoil it with the movie. But as I watched the film yesterday, the reverse happened. I wanted so badly to forget the novel, to pretend I didn’t know what would happen next, to let the film absorb me so entirely everything else would fade in comparison. But of course it did not. That’s too much to ask. So I noticed changes, deviations from the book. I paid attention to the selections and liberties the film took, as well as those it skipped over: Norfolk, the maps, Miss Geraldine. I knew choices had to be made, and I do not begrudge the movie, but I cannot help feeling that I did not enjoy it as much as I would have liked. I can only blame myself, of course, for having read the novel already, but I wish I didn’t have to choose. I wish I could have had both.
Unlike most book-based movies that only constitute offense, Never Let Me Go actually complements and deepens the reading experience. It adds new dimensions to the story that a book would have never made possible. The score, for example, I found appropriate and lovely and affecting all at the same time. In one scene it made the hairs on my arms stand on end, accompanying pure heartbreak. I cried at that point (just a little bit though, not as much as Maki). Both Angel and Ace have warned me about this before, but I still couldn’t help myself. Angel described it well: none of us could watch the last few minutes properly because of the tears blurring our vision. I must have replayed this one scene (my favorite, and I hazard to say everybody else’s) at least four times already, yet until now it does not fail to move me. I cannot imagine it ever will.
It had never occurred to me that our lives, so closely interwoven, could unravel with such speed. If I’d known, maybe I’d have kept tighter hold of them.
What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.