Directed by Mark Romanek
Written by Alex Garland; Based on the Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield. This is the cast of this feature. It is based upon a book that was very critically acclaimed. But I went in with no idea what it might be about, except maybe a romance based on the title. What came between the first and last frames of the films rocked me. It rocked me, not like AC/DC, but more like Al Green or Marvin Gaye because what I saw was quiet, reflective, soulful, romantic, beautiful and utterly, uncontrollably, devastatingly heartbreaking. It rocked my emotions. Lucky for me, I had trivia that night as a pick me up, something to snap me back to reality (oh there goes gravity), because Romanek’s film put me into a reflective trance like maybe nothing else I’ve ever seen. This is the sign of a great film.
The film begins by following the lives of three young children: Kathy (Mulligan), Ruth (Knightley) and Tommy (Garfield). But these are not normal children. They got to a boarding school called Hailsham and we soon learn that their whole lives are set out for them for they are Donors. They were created to give their body parts to society. It is their destiny. They act as humans but are not recognized as such. What makes this story remarkable, however, is not this condition, but the romance between Tommy and Ruth and Kathy. Ruth steals Tommy and Kathy’s true love for fear of being alone and the hope of living longer.
While this story could have easily fallen into science fiction or some political or social commentary, it does not. Rather it evolves into a beautiful portrait of humanity, reflecting on things like romance, friendship, hope, mortality. The situation does not affect these reflections however. Roger Ebert and I both agree that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button did not seem to work quite right because you cannot empathize with a man who ages backwards; life does not work like that. And, while there are no such things as Donors, our lives are still experienced through love and friendship. We all feel life is too short and ponder what service we serve here on Earth. In this regard, the story is very emotional and sympathetic.
The technical aspects of the film live up to the weighty storyline as well. First and foremost I would like to comment on the acting. The three main actors are all fantastic and give inspired performances, but I want to concentrate on Carey Mulligan. Mulligan was nominated, and I felt should have won, for An Education last year. I was stunned by her performance, stunned. Perhaps it was because I cared most about her character, or maybe because Mulligan made me care most about her character, but I lived and died with Kathy in this film. Her story is so full of emotion as she goes through love, loss and her impending mortality. And again, it is in everything that Mulligan does not say, but rather what she shows us that captivated me most and had my heart dying with hers. She deserves another nomination.
The cinematography was stunning as well. The way they shoot England is beautiful. And I am proud to say that I sat in the credits on the edge of my seat to see one thing: “Camera Intern: Christopher Schneider”. Chris is a regular Filmspotter and seeing his name in the credits made me so proud and happy for him. Great job!
This film had me thinking for hours after it finished. It had me into a different mood. It was an assault on both my senses and emotions. I like to say that I live my life on emotion and all sorts of emotions. While this film may not have things that blow up, it may not have you soaring afterward, it is a perfect reflection on the emotions we sometimes suppress the most, or try to avoid. For me, I love contemplating these things and when they are done this well on film, there is nothing quite like it. And once again, I have found another book that I must read. I must because I want more.