This film has the ability to have as little impact as possible - It's an ambitious and unique storyline adapted from a book, stars children as some of the main focus and uses British boarding schools and countrysides as it's main setting. But the fact of the matter is, this film is absolutely astonishing. Coming out of the cinema heartbroken yet amazed at the quality of acting and character this film brings, it was a real surprise to the senses.
Starting off with the storyline, it could quite easily have become a sci-fi enhanced, super technical thriller. But this modest tale about young children growing up in a "special" secluded school, discovering their fate is already set out (that being they were created as clones to keep the human race alive past 100) just provides the originality of the tale. You grow with each and every person on screen and connect with their every emotion. The film is set in the 70s, 80s and then 90s, so at no point are we surrounded by stainless steel wear or electronic touch screens. We're watching doctors operate on people as their organs provide lives for people who gain deadly illnesses. But the people we're watching are clones. The idea that they're not original is strikingly shocking, as is the tale when the film goes on.
The acting is incredible. We have Keira Knightley (Ruth) starring as the almost evil character on screen. She's perfect for this posh private school girl. We have Andrew Garfield (Tommy) who plays the timid romantic lead who is entirely enchanting. And then we have the superb Carey Mulligan (Cathy). Her vulnerability is almost hard to handle by the end because you're just so caught up in her world. Adding to this, you do have to pay credit to the children playing the younger versions of these characters. Izzy Meikle-Small plays a spitting image of Carey in the film. Charlie Rowe (Younger Tommy) and Ella Purnell (Younger Ruth) all add to the realism these kids bring and you believe they are younger versions. They pick up on each other's habits and bring such a fluid performance.
The cinematography is beautiful. Scenic views of beaches, fields and remote areas bring a true a English vibe to the film. The world becomes yours and that's what makes it so crushing. It really is a testament to how much pain you can handle in a story. You come out of the cinema silently and sombre, but with such a sense of pride after what you've just witnessed. Kazuo Ishiguro (who wrote the original novel in 2005) stated he wanted to take 100 pages out of the book because the film is so good. Although many people have said it doesn't touch the book's detail, the film on its own is just beautifully curious.
I've really never seen a film quite like this. The reaction you gain from this is such a bizarre one it's hard to describe. Ranging from admiration to complete and utter sadness, this story will take you through the motions gradually, impacting each time something new to the narrative hits you. Mark Romanek (Director) has created a masterpiece waiting to gain as much credit as it deserves. Considering he's come from a background of music videos, this must have been pretty far-fetched for him. But he's totally created a captivating and soul-filled film.
Just to show how good Mark Romanek's direction is, take a look at this scene from One Hour Photo (2002):