Highly anticipating Mark Romanek's upcoming sci-fi-ish film, "Never Let Me Go" that features an excellent British cast, Andrew Garfield ("Red Riding" trilogy, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Keira Knightley and Sally Hawkins, among others? We sure our. The film is based on Kazuo Ishiguro's bestselling novel, while the screenplay was written by Alex Garland (of Danny Boyle fame including, "The Beach," "28 Days Later" and "Sunshine").
A trusted reader who writes into the site often saw a test screening and gave us a report. Filming shot earlier this year, but we didn't realize this was essentially in the can. No release date yet, but could it be earlier in 2010 then we initially expected? Again, the cast is stellar and we were slightly worried, as we're not huge fans of "One Hour Photo," but Romanek is incredibly talented. See his incredible music videos. As this writer wrote way back in the day when he interviewed Romanek for the Director's Label series, "A whopping 20 MTV Moonmen, plus the only Video Vanguard Award given to a director independent of any specific artist. Romanek is music videos, with more than 50 nominations to his credit. Not even heavyweights like David Fincher or Paul Hunter can boast similar stats."
On to the report:
So a few weeks ago, I got to see a test screening of the new Mark Romanek film, "Never Let Me Go."More about what we wrote about Romanek's video style. What He's Infamous for: Transgressive imagery: Killing Jay-Z ("99 Problems"), handcuffing Trent Reznor as a visceral S&M subject ("Closer"), a pre-Britney jailbait-fetish piece (a then-17-year-old Fiona Apple in 1997's "Criminal"), the most expensive video ever made, according to the Guinness Book of World Records (Michael Jackson's $7 million "Scream"), and enraging Weezer's Rivers Cuomo on the "El Scorcho" video with too many distracting lights and a sign that was innocently spelled, "Weerez." Romanek — who eventually left the project, handing over the edit to Cuomo — said, "It didn't go smoothly; it was the most contentious thing I've ever done."
I am not sure what I was expecting since, I have NOT read the book and only knew anything about it was that Mark Romanek was directing. Let's say, that this film is not as over stylized as Romanek's first film, One Hour Photo, Never Let Me Go, is incredibly beautiful and shot so well. I went to see the film with a friend of mine who's a successful Cinematographer, and throughout the film, he would make noises and sighs of approval, as some of the close ups and establishing shots came on the screen.
IMDB lists the story line as this : "An alternate history story of a woman who, as she reflects on her private school years in the English countryside, reunites with her two friends to face the dark secrets tied to their communal past." That being said, the performances and dynamic between the three friends, (Knightley, Garfield and Mulligan) are beautifully executed. Mulligan stood out to me as just so endearing and believable.
This movie is so character driven, it's nice to not get caught up in the tricks and CG as I did with "One Hour Photo." This film takes its time and really shows off Romanek's style without overusing it at all. I am not sure how the audience will react to the ending of the film,since I didn't read the book I didn't know how the film was going to end and I am pretty sure that it stayed very close to the book. I walked away from the picture feeling genuinely moved. The film is worth seeing based on cinematography and performances alone, but Romanek's subtle style is such a pleasant plus.
While Romanek swung and missed with "One Hour Photo," this one sounds like it good be great. It's good to hear he's putting the story first and not the other way around.