Monday, November 21, 2011
Never Let Me Go
now this is a movie that takes some settling in before I can write a fair review. I tend to have the attention span of a flea these days, and I've wanted to see this movie for over a year, but when I finally put it in the DVD player, my attention was wandering around the room, and I didn't understand why I should care about what was happening to these characters, and I was tempted to turn the movie off. then the movie jumps ahead, and these "kids" are in their late teens/early college years, and again, I don't really understand why I should give a crap about what's going on, though at least there's some drama now that they're old enough for a love triangle to crop up. then the movie jumps ahead AGAIN, and at this point I kind of want to stab the filmmakers, but what happens in this third act manages to tie everything that came before together so beautifully that it made my heart ache, and it totally changed my view of everything that had come before. I'm just glad I was patient enough to get to that point.
First of all, let me say that I wasn't kidding when I said my attention was wandering. somehow, I was glancing around the room and so I missed what was apparently a rather lengthy explanation that flashed across the screen in the beginning of the movie. I managed to figure out most of what was going on without reading this explanation, but I recommend you read it, because it helps put everything you're seeing into a context and it makes the events of the movie make much more sense. Essentially, it is the future, and science has discovered a way for people to live well past the age of 100, but it comes at what I think is a pretty horrific cost. The children in the boarding school in this movie are clones, and they will live out their childhood and teenage years, and then when they reach a certain age, they will begin having their organs harvested. their organs are then transplanted into other people, thereby allowing the other people to live for many more years after their original organs fail.
Seriously, this premise freaked me out. It still freaks me out. I mean, brrr. I used to watch movies and read books like this and enjoy seeing a world that was so different from my world, but now when I read these books or watch these movies, all I can think about is what will happen if our world BECOMES this world? It's a frightening world to have to imagine. These kids are basically harvested for spare parts until they can no longer survive and they die, and society deems this as ok because these kids are cloned from the dregs of society (drug addicts, prostitutes, the poor unwashed, you get the idea). So society sees nothing wrong with using these kids for spare parts because they don't see these kids as people. Um, ew. The explanation that flashed across the screen sets this up, but I missed it, so I didn't understand why the boarding school scenes were important because nothing significant seems to happen. the kids take classes, make some art, and hang out, but nothing groundbreaking is going on. It's only with the revelations in the third act where we learn WHY these activities were so important that the early scenes start to have more of an impact.
The acting in this movie is top notch. I love Kiera Knightly and Carey Mulligan anyway, but they really shine in this movie. their roles are complex and they manage to portray characters that aren't always the easiest to understand. I mean, it would be easy to want to hate Kiera Knightly's character for being such a self-centered bitch, but then none of us really know what it's like to know from the moment that we're born when we're going to die and how, to know we're going to waste away so someone else somewhere can live a long and happy life, so in that context, it's hard to blame her for wanting to carve out some happiness for herself. And it's easy to want to reach through the screen and smack Carey Mulligan's character for being so passive and accepting this horrible society without trying to fight for anything for herself, but again, we don't live in this society where everything is so set in stone and everything is accepted, even this horrific system for harvesting people for their organs, so it's hard not to admire her for being strong and caring in the face of what is a pretty terrifying fate. Andrew Garfield does a great job here, too. The scene at the end with him smiling at Carey Mulligan through a window is such a quiet scene, but it haunts me. It's stuck in my mind and won't go away. That's a lot of power for one scene to have, and it's just one reason why I loved this movie so much.
I have to say, I wound up loving this movie and I want to read the book now and I want to buy the movie and watch it a million more times. It's very quiet and subtle at the beginning, but give it a chance. You won't regret it.