Never Let Me Go: Film Adaptation
The film version is also narrated by Kathy. However, the yoke of a film narrative is much dimmer than that of a first person in a book. The Kathy of the book imposes her point of view, her vocabulary and her narrative sway. In the cinema, because the camera necessarily records it to her and around her, the viewer is much freer to interpret and absorb the world around her. All this works, of course, for the benefit of Romanek’s film, a visually prodigious director. Freed from the anchor of ink and paper, the universe of Never let me go is reborn in the celluloid. There is no Romanek framing that lacks any beautiful image. More than decorative, the elements with which you mise your scene help to delineate a world that is both gray and beautiful, inhospitable and ordinary. There is the rusty ship in the middle of a very wide beach, with sea – rolling, almost still – at the bottom; there is that wonderful image of plastic remains stuck between the barb of a fence, like tiny and useless ship sails; there is that empty dock, a wooden arm resting in the sea, without tourists, without life. Of course, Romanek’s visual eloquence would not matter if his images did not support the plot. But there are, in each of those images, the lives of Kathy, Ruth (Knightley) and Tommy (Garfield; magnificent): prematurely hollow lives, destined to end in a blink; and the deaf world they barely know.
The tone of the tape – the tranquility with which Romanek decorates his canvas – never changes. The spectator will not miss that, like many of the most critical critics of Never let me go, complains about how little Katy, Ruth and Tommy do to evade the destiny that has been imposed on them since they were born. An impatient director, of those who work with one eye in the lens and another in the box office, perhaps would have hurried the step, would have invented a twist, or would have flirted more closely with the science fiction that Ishiguro barely touched on sideways Romanek clearly is not part of that group. His film transforms the novel (makes it an undeniably filmic animal), but never fails to respect the rhythm and actions of Ishiguro. It is, therefore, all that we can expect from a good film adaptation: true to its source, inventive in its interpretation, Never let me go is a film of silent power. And something that, I dare to say, is not his literary twin: a work of art.