"We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we've lived through, or feel we've had enough time."It's always tough to watch a decent concept get a poor treatment onscreen. It leaves much to be desired, as you anxiously root for all the actors involved. Such is the case of Never Let Me Go, an unusual coming-of-age drama starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield.
Never Let Me Go centers around the idea that back in 1952 there was a medical breakthrough that increased the average lifespan past 100 years old. Three students from Halisham, a privileged boarding school in England, are deeply affected by this as they learn they must donate their organs for transplants, and will die before they have any affect. At the backdrop of that story is the love triangle between these students--Ruth, Kathy, Tommy (Knightley, Mulligan, Garfield, respectively). Kathy is the shy, pensive student who falls for the somewhat aloof Tommy, but could never really express her feelings to him. Instead, she stifles her love while listening to bluesy ballads in the privacy of her room. Meanwhile, Ruth notices and seduces Tommy, who blindly falls for her spiteful advances. This puts a years-long tension in their friendship as they go through what is the most painful part of their lives in many ways, heightened by the burden of their inevitable fate. What follows is how each chooses to handle their reality as both their past and their future haunts them each day.
Never Let Me Go at its core is a concept that is never quite fleshed out on screen, but the performances--specifically that of Knightley--are engaging. Knightley gets more impressive with each frame as Garfield and Mulligan pale in comparison. Garfield, perhaps due to a character trait, is very lost in his performance and doesn't ever seen to react with any real certainty. Mulligan's pauses are perhaps her most memorable choices in her performance. She isn't given much to work with, and is vastly outshined by Knightley's seemingly effortless performance. The script could have done better to translate the concept. It works as a big picture concept, but doesn't get the treatment it deserves here.