Director: Sylvain Chomet
After that, I was lucky enough to be able to watch a Press and Industry screening of Never Let Me Go, Mark Romanek’s adaptation of the Kazuo Ishiguro book of the same name. Among the critics present at the screening was Roger Ebert. Considering his physical condition, it’s absolutely admirable to see his dedication and enthusiasm for cinema. The film itself however was a bit of a disappointment.
As a big fan of the book, I was thrown off by Romanek’s dull treatment of the material. The film, for the most part, is devoid of the emotional richness of the book, at least until Kathy (Carey Mulligan) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) meet Tommy (Andrew Garfield) for the first time after Hailsham (which happens in the final chapters of the film).
What hurts the film the most in my opinion is how little time it spends with the central characters at Hailsham. Whereas the book’s narrational order provides so much insight into the heart of its characters through several flashbacks to their childhood, the film’s direct chronological order steers away too quickly from that period, and never really gives the audience the chance to find any emotional attachment to them.
Having said all that, I’ll still recommend the film, specially to those who haven’t read the book before. If for nothing else, the film’s technical achievements are worth watching. Cinematographer Adam Kimmel has done a terrific job in capturing the mood of the book (and a few of the shot really have stayed with me vividly a couple of days later) and Rachel Portman’s sombre score, though not exactly my cup of tea, is very obviously (mybe too obviously) setting the mood as well. I suppose come awards season, these are two areas where we can expect some traction.
Speaking of awards, I shouldn’t forget to mention Keira Knightley, who finds a perfect balance in every step of Ruth’s character arc and a gives a fine-tuned performance. Not to say that Mulligan and Garfield are not good, but the screenplay, especially in the case of Kathy’s monotonic character, doesn’t provide as much for them as it does for Knightley. Still, I can’t imagine another actress can do a finer job than Mulligan with this material.
The truly standout performance of the film however, which will most likely go unnoticed, is Sally Hawkins’ short but unforgettable turn as Miss Lucy; and anyone who’s seen An Education surely knows what Hawkins can do to make a short performance unforgettable. (Anything I say about her performance will spoil the story for those who don’t know it, so I’ll leave it to you to see for yourself).
Later today, I’m attending a screening of Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist. I’ll be back with a review on that one soon.