Kathy (Oscar® nominee Carey Mulligan, An Education), Tommy (Andrew Garfield, Boy A, Red Riding) and Ruth (Oscar® nominee Keira Knightley, PRide & Predjudice) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school and the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart. Watch Never Let Me Go (2010) movie free stream online.
Before the book was published in 2005, Alex Garland had already written a script for a possible film and gave the screenplay to two producers, Andrew Macdonald and Andrew Reich and development started at that moment. "We are delighted to be shooting this special project, which Alex Garland first brought to us before the book's publication in 2005", says Macdonald and Reich. The script for the film is 96 pages long, done in chapters. The director Mark Romanek was first originally attached to The Wolf Man but was dropped for an unknown reason and then was attached to Never Let Me Go and accepted the offer. Romanek said about getting the chance to shoot this film: "From the moment I finished the novel, it became my dream to film it. Ishiguro's conception is so daring, so eerie and beautiful. Alex Garland's adaptation is sensitive and precise. The cast is perfect, the crew superb."
Mulligan plays Kathy, a passive woman who projects both innocence and knowingness in the film. Prior to her casting, Mulligan had already read the novel a few times, considering it to be a favorite of hers, and recalled that when she had read the book three years ago she said that she had to play Kathy. The young actress said that she could not "bear the idea of anyone else" portraying Kathy, although she did acknowledge that she thought other people would be able to do a better performances than hers in the role. She was certain that someone would make a film adaption of the novel and had hoped that they would wait until she would be old enough to play the character. According to the director, he originally was having difficultly finding the right actress to play Kathy and a tight filming deadline loomed prior to Mulligan's casting. While Peter Rice, who is the head of the company financing Never Let Me Go (Fox Searchlight), was watching An Education at the Sundance Film Festival he wrote Romanek a four word text message, which read verbatim "Hire the genius Mulligan." When later asked why the message was "so terse", he explained that he was still in the middle of viewing the film. Rice exhibited what was described as a "rare foresight" in greenlighting a film with an almost unknown actress, with Romanek saying "He just knew that she was it."
Garfield plays the role of Tommy, a confused boy trying to fit in his imperfect world. He said of his character, "There's a sense of anxiety that runs through these kids, especially Tommy, because he's so sensory and feeling and animalistic, that's my perspective of him." The actor stated that he was attracted to the movie based on the existential questions the story expresses and called the experience of being a part of Never Let Me Go a "dream to come true". He considered Never Let Me Go to be a "call to arms" about the positive's of life, which was an aspect he "loved" about the plot. Before shooting the film, he had read both the movie's screenplay and the book. In March 2009, Daily Variety reported that Knightley was involved in the project and was signed. She will play Ruth, who has been described as being manipulative. Knightley felt that the movie's story is "frightening", but said that the film is "more about humanity's ability to look the other way". "You know in fact that if your morals can go out the window if you think you can survive in a certain way, whatever your morals may be," she explained. She further said that she was unable to relate to her character's situation of being involved in a love triangle.
The three lead characters do not have last names because "they are not normal people." Respectively, child actors Isobel Meikle-Small, Ella Purnell and Charlie Rowe play the younger version's of Never Let Me Go's three lead actors. Hawkins, who co-starred with Mulligan in An Education, had a supporting role as Miss Lucy, who is a teacher at an isolated English boarding school where its students slowly become aware of the fact that they are feared by people in the outside world. Charlotte Rampling portrays Miss Emily, a schoolmaster who presides over at the orphanage Hailsham. Richards was cast as an administrator, who is known as Madame. The character has been conducting an ongoing project that intends to profile the students’ characters and psychologies, which has been compared to treating them like they were subjects in an experiment. Riseborough's casting in Never Let Me Go was announced in April 2009 by Screen Daily; she will have as small role in the movie.
Never Let Me Go was given a production budget of fifteen million dollars and principal photography for the movie started in April 2009 and lasted a few weeks. Production design is done by Mark Digby and Adam Kimmel was assigned to cinematography. The commercial director is Duncan Reid, who works for Ingenious Media and the movie was shot by crewmembers of the English company DNA Films. On May 8, 2009, the production moved to Norfolk for filming. Many of the scenes in the film features a certain tree, and according to Location Manager Josh Yudkin this tree will be a famous tree; the beach is also featured in the film. Knightley previously shot scenes at the same place (at Norfolk Hall) for her 2008 movie The Duchess. Also in Clevedon, a location on Hill Road was used and a shop was converted into a travel agency for the film. A large property on Bexhill-on-Sea seafront is being used on 12 and 13 May 2009 to film some scenes. Andrew Melville Hall in the University of St. Andrews was used as the Dover Recovery Centre. Nearly thirty film extras, movie producers and location scouts had to wait several hours for the sun to set on the building so they could film the scenes there. The restaurant scene, which is also featured in both the trailer as promotional screenshots, was shot in The Regent Restaurant and Coffee Lounge in Weston in April 2009. Chiswick Town Hall, a dark building in London, was also used as a shooting location for Never Let Me Go.
According to Mulligan, the only problem during the whole production was that her role required her to drive, but at the time she did not know how to operate a vehicle or have a driver's license. She did a two-week intensive course to learn how to maneuver a manual shift so she could eventually film the driving scenes, but failed the driving test, explaining "I’m really bad at it [driving]. [I have] no hand and eye coordination." The production team ultimately had to shoot the scene on a private road, where she was allowed to get behind the wheel. The director had a hard time making Knightley look plain in the movie. He tells in an interview: "It was difficult. She was eager and happy to do it because the role called for it. But even at her worst, Keira still looks astonishing." We questioned about how she accessed the very deep emotions called for her character, Mulligan stated "I really took my cue from the book" and noted that her role did not require her to have much to say, because Kathy was more of an observer throughout most of the movie. She further recalled that "every time I was in a scene where I wasn’t quite sure where I was going with it, I would go to the book and read through the lines because she’s unreliable, in that much of the time she’s not being truly honest with herself or the audience.” The young actress also said that her friendship with Knightley made their scenes together easier because they would both perceive each others comments to be helpful and would not feel "insulted or hurt".
In July 2010, Never Let Me Go was screened to film critics which gave it generally positive reviews, with The Daily Telegraph calling the movie's three leads "brilliant". Never Let Me Go premiered at the 37th annual Telluride Film Festival (TFF), which is presented by the National Film Preserve and begins on September 3, 2010, and runs through Labor Day in a remote Colorado town. The Hollywood Reporter observed that the audience "seemed to respond positively to the film's look at what makes us human and what defines a soul." The film was also a part of the 35th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) line-up during September 2010 and was screened along with 300 other films. According to Deadline Hollywood, Never Let Me Go was originally expected to have its world premiere at the 2010 Venice Film Festival in September, but Fox replaced it with Black Swan, having favored the TIFF rather than Venice, but eventually settled on the Telluride Film Festival.
In the same month, the movie was screened during the 2010 Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. In addition, Never Let Me Go is also set to open the 54th London Film Festival on October 13, 2010, the same day as its European release date. Never Let Me Go will be the second film based on an Ishiguro novel to open the festival after Merchant-Ivory's The Remains of the Day in 1993. Regarding the film's screening at the London Film Festival, Ishiguro said "It is a fantastic privilege, I feel very lucky. To some extent it is a showcase for British talent and it's a tremendous honour." Describing Never Let Me Go as “accomplished and imaginative,” Sandra Helborn, the president London Film Festival Artistic Director, added that “It combines impeccable film making, outstanding performances and a deeply moving story, and I couldn’t wish for a stronger or more appropriate opening night."
Never Let Me Go was given a limited release for select cities in the United States on October 1, 2010, but the date was later moved up to September 15. The movie will be released in the United Kingdom on January 14, 2011, and on February 9, 2011 it will be released in France. Never Let Me Go was given an R rating for "some sexuality and nudity" by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). As a forum of promotion for the film after its release in September, Mulligan made guest appearances to introduce Never Let Me Go at movie theater's screening it like the Landmark Theater's and AMC Loews Lincoln Square. Upon the films release at the TFF, a writer for the Los Angeles Times called the film an "Oscar wild card" and believed that the film's reviews are "likely to be split between those who consider the film a bleak masterpiece and others who find it straining so mightily for aesthetic perfection that it fails to provide a gripping narrative." Globe and Mail called Never Let Me Go one of 2010's "big noise" films of the year.
Never Let Me Go has received generally mixed to positive reviews from critics, with the cast's performances being praised whereas the film's overall result has been viewed as a disappointment to the novel by some reviewers. A Daily Mail reporter called the movie "the most haunting film about love and death I've ever seen" and film critic David Gritten of The Daily Telegraph saluted the film and applauded the production and the performances of its supporting cast. Saul Austerlitz, a correspondent to the Boston Globe, felt that the movie struck a "mournful note" and believed that certain images in the film, such as a tree in an empty field, "possess a haunting power directly lifted from the best of Romanek’s video work", while respecting the themes in Ishiguro’s novel. The Hollywood Reporter writer Jay A. Fernandez said that Never Let Me Go was an engaging movie, but overall thought that its end result did not have the "devastating emotional impact of the book". Cleveland Magazine's Clint O'Connor strongly praised the acting performance of Garfield and Eric Kohn from indieWIRE praised the script and photography by Kimmel and Garland. In a short review for the film, Chris Knight of the National Post wrote that the movie was able to capture the wistfulness and its "moody tone" of Ishiguro’s novel, but added that it "spills the beans much sooner". Mark Jenkins of NPR radio called Never Let Me Go a "remarkably successful adaptation" of Ishiguro's book, but acknowledge that Romanek and Garland "do make a few missteps," which were mostly the result of the "inherent limitations of squeezing a book's contents into a feature-length film." Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman described the movie as feeling like a "period piece" and rated the film a C+.
Reuters's Stephen Farber called the movie a "let down" because although the film was "expertly acted, impeccably photographed, intelligently written" and "even intermittently touching," Never Let Me Go is "too parched and ponderous to connect with a large audience". He said that the film not completely laying out the logic of its parallel universe, such as the cloning process, and its theme of the dangers of medical experimentation being "rather tired" were among the problems with Never Let Me Go. Slant Magazine writer Ed Gonzalez gave the film a two out of four star rating, saying that in Never Let Me Go the characters' actions do not feel "appropriately warped" while the interactions between the teachers and students is not "at all rife with the what-are-they-thinking-about-us mystery of the book." In a positive review from Andrew O'Hehir of Salon.com, he wrote that in the film Romanek "does so many difficult things beautifully in this movie" and thought that Never Let Me Go carried a reminder that life is short regardless of how long it last rather than a "lecture about the horrors of human history". Tom Preston from The Guardian described Mulligan and Garfield's acting as being solid, while commenting that Knighley's emotional performances are occasionally jarring. He further wrote that although Never Let Me Go finely demonstrated subtlety in the film, its screenplay could have been written with "a little less compression in places." Newsweek's Louisa Thomas praised the film for its beauty and its performances but also declared that "there’s something just missing here."
Marshall Fine of the Huffington Post noted that like the novel, the movie is difficult to embrace. He also said that the film does work on a "suspense level", due to Romanek creating a "quiet, leisurely pace that would not be out of place in a yoga class" and stated that Romanek "no doubt was aiming for an eerie, Children of the Damned, vibe, except that it's the children who are damned". The writer concluded that Never Let Me Go's final result is a "staid, lifeless tale that never talks about what it's about, or at least not enough to provoke deep thoughts on the subject." Film critic Rex Roberts of Film Journal International thought that the movie was moderately surprising given Romanek and Garland's previous work, saying that they "show real affinity for the subtle shades of resignation and quiet desperation that characterize Isighuro’s prose and, as would be expected, accentuate the unsettling eeriness that pervades Never Let Me Go." Roberts also felt that Mulligan and Knightley were unconvincing in their roles due to the age differences. The Canadian Press's Christy Lemire stated that the film was a "gorgeous, provocative look at humainty" and observed that like its characters, the movie "demands much of its audiences emotionally." She concluded that Never Let Me Go is worth the investment. The Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan thought that the film was "passionate about deliberation and restraint" and believed that the latter may not appeal to its audience. Scott Bowles, writing for USA TODAY, gave the film a negative review, declaring "never was a movie so bleak and empty". He claimed that Never Let Me Go did not "embrace the book's unrelentingly dark tones" but rather wallowed in them and commented that not even the cast's performance, particularly Garfield's, were enough to resinate the film. New York Times journalist Monohla Dargis said that the film presented "the aspect of a tasteful shocker" because its "cruelty is done so prettily and with such caution that the sting remains light".
Never Let Me Go was released to four theaters in its opening weekend, with an additional thirty-nine theaters be added to its theatrical run later on. The movie became the number one screening at these four theaters on its opening day, and grossed slightly over $44,500 from those select screenings. In its opening weekend, the film made over $111,700, averaging $30,250 per theatre, taking 42nd place at the box office. In its succeeding week, Never Let Me Go saw a 117% increase, making about $241,000, with an average of nearly $9,500 per theatre, becoming the 28th top grossing movie at the box office for that week. By its third week of release, the movie suffered a revenue decrease despite being screened at more theater's then the previous week, making nearly $188,000. The movie has grossed a total of $726,000 domestically, making back only a fraction of its budget back so far.