Author and screenwriter Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later) knows how to create tension and an almost existential sense of dread from nothing more than the thoughts inside one’s head. So a film collaboration with director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) based on an acclaimed novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) should be a surreal and dramatic vision, an especially vivid dreamscape featuring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield as boarding students in an alternative world where medical science has transformed the world into a seemingly disease-free utopia, but at what should be a shockingly high price.
Popular philosopher-academic Cornel West defines being human as the struggle to live against the certainty of inevitable death. Never Let Me Go seeks to apply a new level of meaning and understanding to this existential dilemma by questioning whether humanity can be granted to someone bred simply as a sacrifice, so that others can live longer.
Romanek’s film, with its romantic complications in tow, is undeniably artful but airless and lacking both a heartbeat and true soul. Grade: C-
Opens Oct. 8 at Esquire Theatre.