Star rating – 7/10
The adaptation of prize winning books is a tricky business, but as I haven’t read Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel I went along to this movie with no preconceptions. Except that is that I don’t really like Keira Knightley – and shocking though I know that is for many readers, I think she is usually good at playing one role only – Keira Knightley. So with that admission out of the way, was the film any good? It is competing with an awful lot of big hitters vying for Oscars at the moment so maybe has suffered a bit in comparison.
This is the science fiction/literary story of children being bred as clones to save the human race from fatal diseases by donating their vital organs and forgoing any chance of adulthood. Only they weren’t supposed to know that in the boarding school they were brought up, with its high fence and strict rules. But a new teacher takes pity on them and spills the beans, resulting in her instant dismissal from the children’s’ lives, and a lot of wondering on their part. To tell the truth it seemed unrealistic how little they actually rebelled when they had the full truth at their disposal. But maybe it is all in the breeding.
The love/friendship triangle/tangle at the centre of the story is between Tommy, Ruth and Kathy. At the start of the film these parts are played excellently by child actors, but it is inevitably in later years that the real sadness takes hold. Andrew Garfield as Tommy once again impresses in a role so different to that which he played in The Social Network that it’s startling how good he is in both. The aforementioned Ms Knightly is well cast as the horrible and spiteful Ruth who comes between true love in Kathy and Tommy, partly through jealousy, and partly as she believes a vague rumour that if you find true love you are spared the horrible inevitability of vital organ donating for a few years more. And Carey Mulligan is perfect as the more timid Kathy, who can only watch as the love of her life is taken by her best friend. But wait a minute – they aren’t supposed to have these feelings are they?
I can imagine that the book is very moving, but the film, although sad and tender in many places, feels a bit pedestrian in others. Although it does make a refreshing change to see Keira looking so bloody rough, and the music was hauntingly beautiful. And the film did make me think towards the end – just a shame it felt like a long time to get there.