At first glance, Never Let Me Go has nothing to do with Asians. Actually, there isn’t really a trace of any Asian-osity throughout the entire film: Carey Mulligan isn’t Asian; neither is the new Spider-man/Brit-boy du jour Andrew Garfield. If you put Keira Knightley in an unfocused lens, she can look kind of Asian. Other than that, there is nothing Asian about this movie — except the writer of the book in which the movie was based: the Japanese-English author Kazuo Ishiguro.
The most I know about Ishiguro is what my high-brow classy colleagues have told me. When they were talking about him, I just nodded my head, raised my eyebrows and said “Mmm-hmm — I totally agree.”
I was a big ol’ poser.
But I did know one thing about him: he wrote Remains of the Day. And that is considered a brilliant book. In turn, he is a brilliant writer. Therefore, Never Let Me Go is a good book. And by the transitive property, the movie is a good — and I can vouch for that.
The movie fuses the mellowness of a English period piece and a WTF-ness of a sci-fi drama. Told by the character of Kathy (Mulligan), the tale follows her and her friends Ruth (Knightley) and Tommy (Garfield). They attend Hailsham, a boarding school in post World War II Britain. Like any British schools in film, they wear uniforms, have cute accents and play games that make no sense to Americans — but there’s still something eerie about this place.
All is going well until the children finally learn why they are there: they are clones created to be donors to their “originals.” You can only imagine what kind of tragic madness they go through after they get that bomb dropped on them.
After watching the film a couple of weeks ago, I walked out of the theater pretty confident that this film would generate a hefty amount of buzz — but then I made the mistake of reading reviews. They were a mixed bag that was the opposite of my expectations. Even Entertainment Weekly, a magazine that usually shares my opinion, gave it a C+.
I wondered if my standards have been lowered or if I was just feeling very emotional the night I watched; but I just pushed all that aside and realized that I have a right to my opinion — even if it does get me a lot of hate comments (check out my post about Charice’s role on Glee.)
Never Let Me, despite the occasional glacial strides of uber-depression, strikes the right chords and makes you welcome those Debbie Downer moments. The entire movie is like tending to a three-legged needy pug that whimpers for your attention. The star trio of Mulligan, Garfield and Knightley (who, by the way, are at their most dowdy in this film) row this Ishiguro boat with a range of emotions that are quiet, but cause a sophisticated ruckus when they tug at your heartstrings. Sure, these characters are doomed from the very beginning, but you can’t help but hope that there will be a happy ending.
If anything, the movie made me want to actually read the source material. Any author that can create a poetic story about cloning with tones of love and depression is probably worth a read — making the movie worthwhile. Plus, being Asian and British is fancy.