Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel is a fusion of philosophy and science fiction but also comments on morality. It is set in the late 90s, a somewhat different time than what actually happened during the later years of the last decade, in the English countryside, in a boarding school named Hailsham. In Hailsham the teachers and professors regularly tell the patients they are special and therefore they should study hard, watch their health and bring out the creativity in them through paintings and sculptures. Little did they know that all of these are mere deceptions of what will actually happen to them in the long run.
In Hailsham we meet the three leads, Kathy, Tommy and Ruth. They grew up together basically and when they reached adolescence feelings and romantic affections start to develop between them. We then follow their journey as they graduate from Hailsham and become carers and then donors. (Let’s just keep it here, because spoiling this movie would be a travesty).
Everything in this film blended perfectly – from the director, the actors, production, cinematography and the screenplay. Of course, with Alex Garland at the helm of writing the adaptation it is bound for greatness. It was remarkable. Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield, three of British cinema’s high-profile young stars effortlessly carried their film and through this they have marked themselves a level ahead of their peers and their counterparts in the US. They displayed an emotional restraint without compromising the intensity of frustration and resistance in their character’s interiors. Mulligan was brilliant as Kathy showing genuine compassion onscreen, Knightley, the weakest link of the three, but still great was deficient in making her character sympathetic. Garfield, the best of the three killed the breakdown scene with precision that it haunts and shows a feeling of defeat to acceptance. The director Mark Romanek, just made two feature films prior to this but he is a tour de force in the music video scene having directed classics like “Scream” by Michael and Janet Jackson, “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails and “Bedtime Story” by Madonna. In this film his experience of directing monumental music videos showed through the amazing angles, gorgeous widescreen shots of the rocky English coast and maintains the melancholic tone of the movie without resorting to melodrama.The musical score complements and enhances.
What’s remarkable about this film adaptation is it lingers after and you are left with questions about existence, morality and humanity. The human soul is unbreakable but it is brittle when it comes to acceptance. It is heartbreaking and complex yet it teaches us to value the simple things. Some might compare it to 2005’s “The Island” but in actuality comparing the two films does not bring justice to Ishiguro’s most subtle novel and the efforts to adapt it.
Watch it: If you loved the book then you will surely love the movie as well and if you like intelligent films that cuts right through the heart
Do not watch it if: British dramas bore you and if you are looking for action.
9 stars out of 10. A Must Watch. One of the best movies of 2010. I’m scratching my head because of the lack of Oscar nominations.