“Never Let Me Go” fails to take hold

“Never Let Me Go”

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley

Pitchforks: 2 out of 5

Rating: R

Opens: Oct. 8

Having already opened in select cities this past September, the head scratcher “Never Let Me Go” makes its way into the Valley Friday.

Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, “Never Let Me Go” follows the lives of three childhood friends blindly following the destiny that was told to them while attending Hailsham, an assumed boarding school hidden in the vast recesses of the English countryside.

While no real clues are given as to where these children come from, “Never Let Me Go” clearly addresses where it is they are going, and what will be happening along the way. For those in the audience however, the journey fails to resonate.

The film first opens with an intentionally vague declaration that the sick can be made well again. After that comes the even more intentionally vague introduction of Hailsham, the students and faculty. Narrated by Kathy, played by Carey Mulligan (“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”), the audience immediately recognizes that all is not well.

It is a quiet kind of strangeness that seems to seep through the big screen. The children are oddly mature, yet completely naïve. As is the case with every depiction of a boarding school, there is a stern and conservative teaching staff overseeing everything. The brief appearance of a young and caring Miss Lucy, played by Sally Hawkins, is the first time that the children seem to be made aware as to what is in store for them.

Upon turning 18, the students of Hailsham and similar establishments are sent to live in various cottages whilst they wait for their futures to be cemented. During this time of course, our three main characters attempt to convince the audience of the hard decisions and realities that they each face. Sadly, this falls on deaf ears.

It is virtually impossible for an audience member to associate him or herself with a character or group of characters that seem so oblivious to what is best for them in their situation. Where there is a clear struggle between these three characters individually, as well as collectively, at no point do any of them seem interested enough in doing anything about it.

One might argue that they are merely products of their own environments, unsure as to any other course of action that might serve them better. However, even in such extreme examples the human spirit creates an alternative, or at the very least makes an attempt. In “Never Let Me Go” this does not happen. They are told one thing, and consider nothing else.

The most unfortunate casualty in this story is true love. Normally, love knows no bounds. In “Never Let Me Go” it appears that love is as easy to turn off as a light switch. Soul mates and true love, regardless of how contrite they might be, serve their purpose ten-fold, especially when they are used appropriately in storytelling.

For many, love like this is a myth, a fairy tale even. But it is a fairy tale worth believing in. “Never Let Me Go” does not try to dispel the idea of love or soul mates, it seems to instead present an alternative that no one would settle for, regardless of their upbringing.

Reach the reporter at jbfortne@asu.edu

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