Thursday, August 4, 2011

DVD Roundup: Never Let Me Go

Some plane movies are better than others.  If you travel at a hard time of year for movies, chances are you'll be reading your book on the plane instead of checking out The Astronaut Farmer (I got screwed with that one once).  However, I had a terrific plane ride to Hawaii and got to see some terrific movies and here's the first.

Never Let Me Go was a movie I'd heard good and meh things about.  I knew the basic premise - it's a world where they've figured out how to harvest organs and prolong the lives of people, except for the organ donors of course.  We follow 3 kids, Tommy, Kathy, and Ruth.  They all go to a boarding school in England that is particularly strange since they never ever mention their families.  It seems like they've been at the school forever.  The eeriness just continues, but it's hard to pinpoint what's off until a ball goes outside the fence during a game and no one goes after it.  They don't leave the grounds ever.  Kathy has a crush on Tommy (and is the narrator) but when we see them a bit more grown up (now as Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightly and Carey Mulligan) Ruth is now with Tommy and we watch Kathy (Mulligan) pine for him a bit and try to figure out what her life is about.
They have now figured out that they were "grown" to be organ donors for other people and they might get to "donate" (is it a donation if it's something you need yourself?) three or four times and then they'll die.  They're so matter of fact about it all, and they all want to do their "job" the best they can.  Kathy has become a care-giver which puts off her first donation a while and she helps other people through their donations.  One day she runs into Ruth after a donation and they decide to go try and find Tommy and Ruth apologizes for stealing him when they were kids.
I'm not sure I can do this movie justice with just an explanation.  The reason I've been using quotes around so many things because they're so normal in this world that it's just another word, but to see them doing these morally objectionable things and being okay with it was pretty hard to watch.  There's a quote that we used on Reel Insight a little while ago that explains a lot of what still puzzles me about this movie. It's said by the school headmistress about why they had art class: "We didn't have to look into your souls, we had to see if you had souls at all" and describes the crux of the movie.  However, the movie seems to waffle between wanting to be a love story between Tommy and Kathy and whether they'll overcome the obstacles to their relationship (i.e. dying) and being a moral story about using some people to save others.  Sadly, the movie doesn't quite commit to being either, but that doesn't trouble my overall opinion of the film.  There are lots of statements that really make you think about the attitude of the person saying it as well as the moral implications of what they're saying.  Well written, just not committed to fully realizing either story (which is okay, just not my preference). I really want to see it again and just watch how it's made.  The colors are gorgeous and the tone of the film works beautifully, particularly with Mulligan's quiet acting.  4 of 5 stars/lambs

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