I just recently finished reading Never Let Me Go. I have very rarely been so intrigued by the subject matter of a book and at the same time so bored by its style. Never Let Me Go, the book, was deadly dull. Still, I was so intrigued, as I say, by the plight of these characters, that I was compelled to see how the book translated to the big screen. You might say I felt this novel and original storyline deserved a second chance.
All in all, I give the movie adaptation a thumbs up, with one big caveat: I think those who did not read the book first would be left scratching their heads. While the book was slow and plodding (and devoted MUCH too much detail to certain occurrences in the storyline), nevertheless it offered the opportunity for reflection on the subtleties of what was taking place. Given the pacing of a typical movie, if you blink, you might miss something momentous and I think that was the case with this movie, so it certainly helped to have read the book prior to seeing the film. The screenwriters did an excellent job of condensing the book, and I felt, after having read it, that condensing was precisely what this otherwise compelling and poignant story required.
Never Let Me Go was a lyrical and visually beautiful production. The accompanying musical score was appropriate to a sad and heartbreaking story. The acting was terrific - especially by Cary Mulligan whose sad eyes reveal the melancholy of her character, and Keira Knightly, especially in the hospital scene where she portrays a nearly depleted "donor." I didn't care much for the male lead, but his one outbreak of emotion upon having his hopes of a "deferral" dashed was very significant. And the character of Miss Lucy comes across as more sympathetic in the movie than in the book.
My criterion for a good movie is this: If it stays with me once I hit the sidewalk in front of the theater, rather than evaporating like smoke, well, that's a good movie. Never Let Me Go has stayed with me. The ending left me with a feeling that although these fictionalized characters were little more than lab rats, we all, in a sense, share a similar fate. Life is short, loss hurts, live and love while you can.
It rarely happens that I enjoy a movie adaptation more than the book on which it was based, but I would have to say that was the case here. Bravo.
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