Never Let Me Go is a stunning film. I found it both extremely sinister and extraordinarily poignant - a remarkable combination. The best film I saw in 2011 was The King's Speech, but it will take something quite dazzling to make a greater impact on me this year than Never Let Me Go.
The film is based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro, which I haven't read, and the screenplay by Alex Garland is, as I gather from what I've read, pretty faithful to the original, although the secret of Hailsham School, where two young girls and a boy become friends, is revealed quite early on. A few critics have complained that the film is too bleak, or too slow, and it seems that it wasn't quite as commercially successful as may have been expected. But no matter. I think it is a film that will last, because it is a subtle yet very true exploration of fundamentals of human nature.
A great deal is left unsaid, and that can sometimes be irritating. But not here. Any thoughtful viewer will be interested in trying to fill in the gaps. This is not a "crime" film, and I doubt whether it's very useful to think of it mainly in sci-fi terms either, but the way in which suspense is built and maintained impressed me.
I've avoided saying much about the storyline, because I don't want to spoil it. But the actors deserve great praise. Carey Mulligan (even better here than she was in a smaller role in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which I enjoyed over the Christmas break) conveys pathos and decency superbly. Andrew Garfield, as Tommy, the doomed boy she loves, is highly charismatic, while Keira Knightley is good too, despite finding it difficult to look unattractive when her character faces "completion".
I'll remember this film for a long time, and also think hard about its messages. I recommend it unreservedly.