Never Let Me Go

Out Now On-Demand

Carey Mulligan (An Education), Keira Knightley (Atonement) and Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) star in this sci-fi drama, an adaptation of the highly acclaimed Kazuo Ishiguro novel.

Ruth, Kathy and Tommy spend their childhood at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school - this is a world and time that feel familiar, but is not like anything we know. As they grow into young adults, they find themselves coming to terms with the love they feel for each other, while preparing for the haunting reality that awaits them.


Directed by

Written by

Adaptation, Drama, Thriller


Rating: M contains sex scenes


Official Site

Whilst it nods to speculative literary sci-fi such as 1984 and A Handmaid’s Tale, Mark Romanek’s autumnal Kazuo Ishiguro adaptation has more in common with Atonement and The Go Between – elegies for an England about to be steamrollered, unknowingly, into oblivion.

Set in an alternative present where disease has been mysteriously eradicated, it follows Mulligan, Garfield and Knightley, three residents of a special 'preparatory' school, as their friendships bloom and wither through the years. Like WWII soldiers on the frontline, they await their preordained fates in ignorance, and the film thrums with the shell-shocked austerity of that era. "Maybe none of us really understand what we live through…" concludes Mulligan, whose astonishingly assured performance seems to draw on centuries lived out in the cold.

Lack of awareness is the key here; the protagonists’ sad little lives pivoting on misunderstandings, immature assessments of the not-so-brave new world around them, and things left unsaid. As they move from childhood straight to decrepitude, much of the drama happens at arm’s length, and the grim realities of their lab-rat existences are couched in euphemisms where, for example, death becomes "completion" and hospices "recovery centres". It's a hymn to mute incomprehension, a paean to chances missed, but so all-consuming is the characters’ emptiness it begins to deflate the entire enterprise, and the art-cinema averse will begrudge the lack of emotional release. Though sensitively assembled by talented professionals, this is a film that wants to cry, but can’t remember how.

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)


This is a good movie, from a masterful novel.

Empire (UK)


A beautifully realised adaptation of a profoundly affecting novel. Intelligent sci-fi provides the backdrop, while in the foreground is a trio of truly impressive performances from Mulligan, Knightley and Garfield.

Guardian (UK)


This intensely English adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel is too tasteful to be scary and too contrived to be tragic WARNING: Contains spoilers

Hollywood Reporter


Expertly acted, impeccably photographed, intelligently written, even intermittently touching, the film is also too parched and ponderous to connect with a large audience.

Little White Lies (UK)


Suffused in desolate sadness, Never Let Me Go is a disquieting journey through the bleak midwinter of the human soul.

New York Times


Alas, what's missing is the spark of life, the jolt of the unexpected - something beyond tears - to puncture the falseness of a film world, which, by its insistence on its own beauty, obscures the tragedy that the three characters, by their nature, cannot express.

NZ Herald (Peter Calder)


Model adaptation

Total Film (UK)


Blade Runner goes to boarding school…

Variety (USA)


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.

sad but good

nicely done, very sad

Not amazing..

This movie was well made and looked beautiful, costumes and minimal make up were amazing but I felt the story was a bit lost..

You could say it was artsy and touchy and goes deep into the human condition but I personally thought they began storylines that ended nowhere and I got annoyed at the characters complete acceptance to their fate.

I suspect the book would be a better option as you would have more time to connect with the characters.

I wasn't bored but not as good as expected.

Beautifully Haunting

I just got back from watching this film, and feel appropriately stunned... the whole atmosphere - music, setting, all of it - added perfectly to the inevitable and slightly desperate feeling that ran through the whole 103mins. I adored the main characters, and their own struggles that were focused upon, despite the question that was always looming in the background - wasn't it all pointless anyway? Gives you a lot to think about, and the way that the film ended? Perfect. Will still haunt my thoughts for a while.





In a world where cloning boomed in the 1960s, Never Let Me Go prefers to keep its sci-fi setting in the distance (which may turn some off), opting to hold close the relationship between three replicants: Kathy, Tommy and Ruth. Through this trio, the film sends a direct challenge towards our conceptions of love, humanity, being alive and what it means to have lived a life. It guides you through with tenderness, though never holding your hand. It delivers its message with patience, though it never drags. It may not always hit the heart, but it always clips the arteries.

Poignant performance by Mulligan

I watched this on a long-haul flight a few months ago (not sure why the cinematic release in NZ was delayed for so long) with no knowledge at all about the plot, so was quite surprised by how it all played out.

Overall, a well-cast and beautifully shot film that made me root for Carey Mulligan's character all the way, though Keira Knightly did a good job at the end to give some insight into her rather unsympathetic character. However, at the end couldn't help but feel that something was missing, and the way all the characters just accepted their situation was rather bizarre and impossible to relate to from the real world's perspective - I know they wanted to keep some mystique or didn't want it to turn into The Island, but there were quite a few things I'd wished they'd explained.

Would recommend this if you were looking for something slow paced and bittersweet - or if you were a fan of any of the main actors.

hauntingly sad

This film was well done. I have a feeling the images and moods will carry with me for days to come. It was just so sad. Ms Mulligan does sad, well.

I love what the author had to say about life.




Leaves questions unanswered.

I found this film sinister and unnerving but I still enjoyed it, and now I want to read the book.

Personally I would have liked some more exposition on the science behind the story, but I appreciate that this would have detracted from the mystery and atmosphere of the film.

Andrew Garfield did a good job of playing Tommy, who, despite his tendency to rage, seemed to placidly accept Ruth's designs on his brief future despite his obvious connection with Kathy (Carey Mulligan).

Frustrating as Tommy's behviour was to me, as the characters got older it became obvious that they weren't maturing emotionally - Kiera Knightly's Ruth remained selfish and cruel until the 11th hour, and Kathy's apathy in the face of their destiny was disguised by Mulligan's signature tight-lipped poise.

Mulligan, Garfield and Knightly's efforts render the ambiguous questions regarding their character's souls unanswered. It's hard to work out if this is an achievement or not. After I left the theatre, the desolation of their situation sort of haunted me for the rest of the day.

loved it so much I bought the book

Admittedly I originally just watched it because I was in cold Europe and wanted to warm up in a cinema (and this was one of the few English films on offer), but I really enjoyed this. A smart little film, disturbing and well acted. I loved it so much I bought the book as soon as I got home!

Nice spoiler in the synopsis


Nice spoiler in the synopsis

Having read the book I wonder at the wisdom of putting the big plot reveal in the synposis. I love this book and am rather nervous about the casting.

Andrew Garfield: yes (his performance in "Boy A: is proof enough that he's extremely talented); Carey Mulligan - current "it" girl? I'm not sure. This at least is a step in the right direction after her cloyingly annoying performance in "An Education". Keira Freaking Knightly? No no no no! There is no place for an actress who acts by alternately pouting and chewing her lips as the costume designers try and find ways to disguise her skeletal frame.

I hope I'll be pleasantly suprised but i'm not going to hold my breath.




loved the movie now I'm reading the book

A bittersweet sci fi which bristles with what ifs about the human condition all in a compelling story.No special effects and NOT in 3D this movie uses SCRIPT and STORY and ACTING. I saw it on a plane and came home and bought the book.