Monday, May 23, 2011

Never Let Me Go

Directed by Mark Romanek.
2010. Rated R, 103 minutes.
Carey Mulligan
Keira Knightley
Andrew Garfield
Izzy Miekle-Small
Charlie Rowe
Ella Purnell
Charlotte Rampling
Sally Hawkins

A few years ago, director Michael Bay gave us “The Island.” In it, there was a colony of clones keptin in what was essentially an underground warehouse for spare parts. These clones existed only to provide any parts needed by the person they were cloned from. Eventually, a couple of them figure this out and all hell breaks loose. For my money, it’s easily one of Bay’s better movies. Nevermind that it was actually a rip off of an old 70s B-movie called The Clonus Horror.. Never Let Me Go starts with the same idea. In this case, our clones are being raised at a special school. When they eventually graduate, they are moved to various boarding houses until it is time for them to make “donations.” Depending on what’s needed, most of them make about four donations before dying in their early twenties. This movie takes a decidedly quieter approach to the subject. Where the latter half of Bay’s movie is essentially one long chase scene, “NLMG” has no such adventure. That’s okay. Sci-fi that uses its brain instead of its fx is a nice change of pace.

One of the problems is there isn’t much sci-fi beyond its premise. By that, I mean there are deep ethical and philosophical discussions to be had based on the mere fact of the existence of clones. There is a little of this at the beginning, a little more in the middle, then a bit more at the end. Most of our time is spent on a rather mundane love triangle. Kathy (Mulligan) has a crush on Tommy (Garfield) when the two of them are about ten years old. Classmate Ruth (Knightley) suddenly decides she likes Tommy and steals him away. Kathy spends most of the next 18 years pining over the only boy she’s ever loved.

Let’s get back to the sci-fi. There are some interesting things afoot. For instance, Kathy gets what can only be deemed as a stay of execution when she becomes a “caregiver.” Basically, she becomes a social worker to other clones who are going through donations. Eventually, she will have to go through them herself, but she gets to live a little longer. Sadly, exploring truly intriguing topics such as this are only skimmed while we plumb the depths of the aforementioned love triangle.

Honestly, I have nothing against movies about longing for love, if they’re done well. This one is trite and has an air of inevitability. It’s coming to a point we know that it must. No matter how much they try to fake us out, we just don’t buy it. There will be some that will be enthralled by the romance factor. To the rest of us, it will seem to have wasted its potential.

MY SCORE: 5.5/10

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