Telluride 2010 is in full swing and the first major film has screened. It's Mark Romanek's highly anticipated (at least from us) third feature-length drama, "Never Let Me Go" starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and the soon-to-be new "Spider-Man" Andrew Garfield (the kid can truly act and you'll all see soon enough). The picture takes place in a boarding school and tracks the lives and friendships of three students (mentioned above) who eventually learn a dark secret about their existence. Reviews so far seem to be fairly positive with some critics waxing breathlessly about the picture's actors, tone and mood, but there are a few who seem to think it's too distant. Frankly, considering how good Mulligan and Garfield are, we're not surprised and we're glad to hear Romanek has seemed to capture such nuance and texture after the rather overt and obvious, "One Hour Photo."
The first big salvo in the Telluride reviews has come from MCN's David Poland who calls Romanek's film a "masterpiece." And adds glowingly, "[it's] a film we’ll be discussing, frame by frame, in schools, 20 years from now. I can only hope that this doesn’t mean it will be underappreciated now. This film feels like the product of Kubrick and Malick’s bastard son."
Variety is in the tank for the picture as well. "“Never Let Me Go is that rare find, a fragile little four-leaf clover of a movie that’s emotionally devastating, yet all too easily trampled by cynics. his gift for texture and tone shines through. Once again, the helmer seems drawn to the melancholy side of his material, directing the cast, especially Mulligan, to play everything as if teetering on the brink of a complete emotional breakdown."
Anne Thompson says: Romanek has "created a believably off-kilter ‘what-if’ world that is vaguely familiar but not exactly what once was,” praising the trio of actors as a “heartbreaking love triangle,” cautions audiences that she "cried buckets at this film" and adds" get out your handkerchiefs."
THR has mixed thoughts calling it, "a very engaging, if somber, story that has a surfeit of elegant elements that didn't quite add up to a great film as a whole. Mulligan, who trekked to Telluride for the first time last year with "An Education," is equally magnetic in a role that asks her to be silent and/or sad much of the time. Despite the restrained nature of her performance, she shows once again that she is a uniquely expressive and radiant film presence. Garfield, who is about to make a big shift into the mainstream "Spider-Man" universe for Sony, is also very good in playing an odd, somewhat dim but still heartbreaking character."
Awards Daily is cool on the picture as well: "Ultimately, the movie peters out at the end, and when the headmistress delivers devastating, but predictable news, it becomes a waiting game for everything else to fall into place."
We'll be seeing "Never Let Me Go" for ourselves next week at the Toronto Film Festival, so look for our review there. The picture hits theaters in limited release on September 15.
InContention is not quite moved, but they, much like everyone else, seem to think composer Rachel Portman is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination which is nice to hear considering we've already heard the score and think it's great. "There is a distance here, a cold sense of removal from what would otherwise be an extremely moving narrative. I wanted desperately to feel for the characters and their plight (I won’t hazard particulars for fear of spoilers). But I felt nothing…at all."
Hitfix seems to thing the film is saddled with too much lugubriousness upfront. "What is most disappointing about the film is that the picture's tone is so sad and morose it hinders any real connection for the characters. You want them to have one moment of joy, one minute of happiness in their days waiting for their eventual fate (and there are told to be many), but it never happens (or is reduced to forced laughter at an American TV sitcom)."
Even genre guys like Firstshowing and /Film who seemingly could have been turned off by the lack of sci-fi elements in the film are giving it their thumbs up.