In his highly acclaimed novel Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) created a remarkable story of love, loss and hidden truths. In it he posed the fundamental question: What makes us human? Now director Mark Romanek (ONE HOUR PHOTO), writer Alex Garland and DNA Films bring Ishiguro’s hauntingly poignant and emotional story to the screen. Kathy (Oscar© nominee Carey Mulligan, AN EDUCATION), Tommy (Andrew Garfield, BOY A, RED RIDING) and Ruth (Oscar© nominee Keira Knightley, PRIDE & PREJUDICE, ATONEMENT) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school and the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.
Never Let Me Go (novel) is a 2005 dystopian science fiction novel by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize (an award Ishiguro had previously won in 1989 for The Remains of the Day), for the 2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award and for the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award. Time magazine named it the best novel of 2005 and included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. It also received an ALA Alex Award in 2006. A film adaptation directed by Mark Romanek was released in 2010; a Japanese television drama aired in 2016.
Never Let Me Go (2010 film) is a 2010 British dystopian alternative history romantic drama film based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Mark Romanek from a screenplay by Alex Garland. Never Let Me Go is set in an alternative history and centres on Kathy, Ruth and Tommy portrayed by Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield respectively, who become entangled in a love triangle. Principal photography began in April 2009 and lasted several weeks. The movie was filmed at various locations, including Andrew Melville Hall. Never Let Me Go was produced by DNA Films and Film4 on a US$15 million budget.
Prior to the book’s publication, Garland had approached the film’s producers—Andrew Macdonald and Andrew Reich—about a possible film, and wrote a 96-page script. The producers initially had trouble finding an actress to play Kathy. Mulligan was cast in the role after Peter Rice, the head of the company financing the film, recommended her by text message while watching her performance in An Education. Mulligan, a fan of the book, enthusiastically accepted the role, as it had long been a wish of hers to have the opportunity to play the part. The film’s message and themes were the factors that attracted Garfield to become a part of the film.
Never Let Me Go premiered at the 37th annual Telluride Film Festival in September 2010, where the audience responded positively to its message. The film was also screened at festivals including the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, and the 54th London Film Festival which it opened. The film was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures to cinemas in the United States on 15 September 2010, where it was given a limited release. It opened on 14 January 2011 in the United Kingdom. In the United States, Never Let Me Go opened at four theatres, grossing over US$111,000 during its first weekend. The movie got off to a better start in its first weekend in the UK, earning UK£625,000 and taking ninth place at the box office.
Never Let Me Go earned US$9.5 million at the box office and an additional US$1.8 million in DVD sales revenue. Never Let Me Go was met with generally positive reviews from film critics, with most reviewers praising the cast’s performances. It was placed on several critics’ top ten lists for the year.
The film begins with on-screen captions explaining that a medical breakthrough in 1952 has permitted the human lifespan to be extended beyond 100 years. It is narrated by 28-year-old Kathy H (Carey Mulligan) as she reminisces about her childhood at a boarding school called Hailsham, as well as her adult life after leaving the school. The first act of the film depicts the young Kathy (Izzy Meikle-Small), along with her friends Tommy (Charlie Rowe) and Ruth (Ella Purnell), spending their childhood at Hailsham in the late 1970s. The students are encouraged to create artwork, and their best work gets into The Gallery run by a mysterious woman known only as Madame (Nathalie Richard). One day, a new teacher, Miss Lucy (Sally Hawkins) quietly informs the students of their fate; they are destined to be organ donors and will die, or “complete”, in their early adulthood. Shortly afterward she is sacked by the headmistress, Miss Emily (Charlotte Rampling) for sharing this revelation with the children. As time passes, Kathy falls in love with Tommy, but Ruth and Tommy begin a relationship and stay together throughout the rest of their time at Hailsham.
In the second act, Kathy, Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield), now teenagers, are rehoused in cottages on a farm in 1985. They are permitted to leave the grounds on day trips, but are resigned to their eventual fate. At the farm, they meet former pupils of schools similar to theirs, and it is revealed that they are all clones. They also hear rumours of the possibility of “deferral” – a temporary reprieve from organ donation for donors who are in love and can prove it. Tommy becomes convinced that The Gallery at Hailsham was intended to look into their souls and that artwork sent to The Gallery will be able to confirm true love where it is present. The relationship between Tommy and Ruth becomes sexual, and jealousy causes Kathy and Ruth to break their friendship. The lonely Kathy leaves and becomes a “carer” – a clone who is given a temporary reprieve from donation as a reward for supporting and comforting donors as they are made to give up their organs. Tommy and Ruth’s relationship ends.
In the third and final act, 10 years later, Kathy is still working as a carer, and has watched many clones gradually die as their organs are harvested. Kathy, who has not seen Ruth or Tommy since the farm, discovers Ruth, frail after two donations. They find Tommy, who is also weakened by his donations, and drive to the sea. There, Ruth admits that she did not love Tommy, and only seduced him because she was afraid to be alone. She is consumed with guilt and has been searching for a way to help Tommy and Kathy. She believes that the rumours of “deferral” are true, and has found the address of the gallery owner, Madame from Hailsham, who she thinks may grant deferrals to couples in love. Ruth dies on the operating table shortly afterward.
Kathy and Tommy finally begin a relationship. Tommy explains to Kathy that he has been creating art in the hope that it will aid deferral. He and Kathy drive to visit Madame, who lives with the headmistress of Hailsham. The two teachers tell them that there is no such thing as deferral, and that Tommy’s artworks will not help him. They explain that the purpose of The Gallery was not to look into their souls but to investigate whether the “all but human” clones even have souls at all; Hailsham was the last place to consider the ethical implications of the donor scheme. As they take in the news on their return journey, Tommy breaks down in an explosion of rage and frustration and Kathy and he cling to each other in grief. The film ends with Tommy dying on the operating table. Kathy is left alone, waiting for her donations which will begin in a month. Contemplating the ruins of her childhood, she asks in voice-over whether her fate is really any different from the people who will receive her organs: after all, “we all complete”.
Director Mark Romanek has said that, as in the novel, everyone has to uncover their relationship to our own mortality; we have two options: either go against it, or try to figure out a way around it like the character Tommy does. Romanek hoped the audience of Never Let Me Go would be reminded of what is important: love, behaviour, and friendships. He recalled an email a person had written to him: “‘I saw your film and it made me cry and I haven’t reacted to a film emotionally like that in years. And I called my father, cause I realized I hadn’t spoken to him in 3 weeks and I told him how much I love him and how much I appreciated what a good father he’s been.'”
Andrew Garfield believes the story of Never Let Me Go is about humans, and exploring “what it is to have a soul, and how you prove what a soul is”; he says he enjoys the way the film is a “call to arms” about the positives of life. He adds that its message could hopefully remind people that they have a choice when they arise in the morning whether to pursue their own choice of activities for the day, or to do what they should do or are obliged to do. Keira Knightley feels that the film’s story is alarming, but has said that the film is “more about humanity’s ability to look the other way”. “You know in fact that if your morals can go out the window if you think you can survive in a certain way, whatever your morals may be”.
Japan TV Version
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