Never Let Me Go (to sleep)

I have a (mostly) unread collection of Kazuo Ishiguro short stories sitting on my growing I’ve-bought-these-so-I-really ought-to-get-down-to-reading-them pile of books. I put it aside after two stories (for what, I don’t remember) and keep telling myself I should get back to it, but I haven’t for quite a long while now. Yet now I think, for the first time in a long while, I’m truly excited about a book, without having even come anywhere close to it before.

Mark Romanek’s film adaptation of Never Let Me Go is devastatingly good; and the critics tend to agree the novel is much better. The film is the so very sad: it transcends mere heartbreak and enters the territory or literal and literary tragedy.

The film’s main premise, of widespread human cloning to meet organ donation needs, strains at the boundaries of credulity and is its Achilles’s heel. It makes the going-ons seem surreal, and all that less believable. It leaves a shadow in the back of one’s mind, constantly nagging, asking why the characters seem so normal and calm in a world apparently gone mad. But, in spite of this the actors do a brilliant job, bringing poignancy to their characters’ desperate struggle to live. The dystopia of the film’s setting is so absurd and the characters’ attempts to fight fate so futile; combined with the humanity the actors bring results in a product that forces us to confront what it means to live, to breathe, to be human in an ultimately hostile world. It is terrifyingly good.

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