Actually, I detest science fiction. In the worst of cases, the make-believe worlds of the authors are so contrived that the dialogue is rendered idiotic because the characters have to explain their own everyday universe to each other so the audience can follow it.
So what was a great relief to me about "Never Let Me Go" was that it was science fiction without the science. Not a word is breathed about how the clones are made. Ishiguro's (or, for that matter, filmmaker Romanek's) errand is not to blame science or society at all. The story is purely existentialistic. The tragedy is not so much the shortness of the young people's lives, as the fact that they manage to ruin them with passivity and jealousy.
Based on another novel from Ishiguro about people who give up their lives to serve others (his breakthrough was "Remains of the Day"), "Never Let Me Go" is also a story without villains. It's like a merciless Greek drama, leading our characters to their inevitable end. 'This brief tragedy of flesh', as Emily Dickinson would have it.
The true tragedy in the film is that of Ruth (Keira Knightley), who, out of fear of being the one left out, steals Kathy's (Mulligan's) boyfriend. For some reason, Knightley's performance moved me to tears. Literally. And I'm not easy.
But, that said, the acting is brilliant all over; Mulligan, Garfield, and yet another reunion with Charlotte Rampling whose career has soared in recent years.
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