Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4 stars
Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Never Let Me Go

Street Date:
February 1st, 2011
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
February 15th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
2010
Studio:
20th Century Fox
Length:
169 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

More often than not, when we think of sci-fi movies we think of futuristic films that are more about the spectacle of the surroundings than about the characters themselves. Movies like 'Minority Report' and 'Blade Runner' do a fantastic job combining the spectacle with a human element. Still, there are other sci-fi movies that leave the science fiction in the background as a backdrop to the characters' story. 'Never Let Me Go' is one of those films. At times you almost forget you're watching a sci-fi picture.

Kathy (Carrey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield), and Ruth (Keira Knightley) are friends. They go to a special school and learn what their future is going to be like. They'll live like normal kids. They'll learn, grow, and laugh. But they're not normal. They're a different class of citizen. They've been grown, specifically for the use of harvesting their internal organs for the betterment of society. Surprisingly, they're seemingly okay with this plan. They're scared, yes, because they'll end up dying from the process. Still, they talk like it's an honor to do what they're doing.

They're kept track of like property, or sheep. Every time they enter or exit the facility a little bracelet on their hand is scanned. These sci-fi elements remain in the background through as we watch these three characters continue throughout their lives knowing what's waiting for them in the future.

They experience sadness, happiness, and even the joys of sex. They remain childlike. Their innocence is their condemnation. Kathy is the most stalwart of the bunch. She ends up becoming a counselor that helps others of her kind get through the donation process with comfort and help. There is no family for these people. They are their own family.

Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, 'Never Let Me Go' is a simplistic, heart-breaking tale. It's origins are deeply rooted in the basic human urges and desires we all have. Like sheep to the slaughter, these conscious beings live their lives knowing that any moment could be their last. Imagining yourself in such a situation is impossible. Even imagining yourself living in such a world where something like this was accepted is unimaginable.

This is one of those movies that, while breaking down your emotional defenses, also makes you feel strong and resolute, happy that humanity isn't like this, happy that these characters, given all their trials, continue to look at life with a predominantly rosy outlook.

'Never Let Me Go' was largely passed over this awards season. Why? I have no clue. It was one of the best movies of 2010.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Fox's 1080p transfer for 'Never Let Me Go' is simply stunning. It's never boastful or over indulgent, yet it dazzles with its understated majesty of richly detailed countryside vistas, fields, and beaches. Clarity is top-notch, featuring scene after scene of stellar visuals that pop off the screen with life. The entire transfer is filled with the tiniest details that make it a demo-worthy option. As the three main characters sit in the sand on a beach, watch as the wind blows the long grass around them. Each blade is visible, and the colors are astounding. It's a beautiful scene, that almost defines the kind of wonderment that is in store for you throughout this Blu-ray.

Blacks are superbly defined. Shadows provide detail-oriented delineation that adds depth and feeling to the picture. Lush greens dominate the color landscape. The entire presentation has a perfect thematic feel to it.

From intricate brickwork to finely woven sweaters and school uniforms, this transfer does it all without the least bit of aliasing getting in the way. As a matter of fact technical anomalies stay away along with any examples of egregious edge enhancement or DNR. This is simply a beautiful transfer, subtle in its brilliance. Many of the scenes here could easily be used as demo material.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

This is a quiet, thoughtful film full of long periods of silence and simple dialogue. However, that doesn't stop the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation from wowing us on a couple of different levels.

Rear channels are used nicely, as ambient noise like gusting wind or chirping birds engulf us into the listening environment. Dialogue is presented clearly as it's piped through the center and front channels. The voiceover narrations provided by Cathy have a certain oomph to them that draws our attention quickly. Conversations between characters are always intelligible without anything being lost in the fray. Rachel Portman's rousing score is piped throughout the soundfield offering an encompassing feel as her beautiful music surrounds you. LFE is much left untouched, except for a few dramatic scenes that call for some intense feelings to be conveyed.

All in all, this is a very solid audio presentation for a film that relies mostly on somber dialogue.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Never have I been so let down than I am right now. No commentary track on a movie like this is unforgivable.

  • The Secrets of 'Never Let Me Go' (HD, 30 min.) — A standard making-of documentary that features random behind the scenes footage coupled with interviews from the cast and crew talking about their roles on the film.

  • Mark Romanek's On-Set Photography (HD, 3 min.) — Still images of the cast and crew during filming captured with black and white photography.

  • Tommy's Art (HD, 2 min.) — Like the gallery above, this is another one full of still pictures of Tommy's art that he draws during the film.

  • National Donor Programme & Hailsham Campaign Graphics (HD, 2 min.) — Faux posters representing the heartless organization portrayed during the movie.

  • Trailer — The trailer is included.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives here.

Final Thoughts

I loved 'Never Let Me Go.' It's so simple, and yet so beautiful. It's full of human emotion, substance, and feeling. It's magnificently shot, acted, and directed. Why it's been passed over by the Oscars is simply a mystery. This is one of the rare gems from 2010. To make matters even better, this one has received a stellar looking release on Blu-ray with demo-worthy visuals, and an audio presentation that accurately represents the film's somber mood. The special features are a huge disappointment though, I was really hoping for a commentary on this one. Still, this film comes highly recommended.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • “The Secrets of Never Let Me Go” -- an exclusive 30-minute behind the scenes look at the making of the film featuring the cast and crew as they chronicle the journey from book to the big screen.
  • Mark Romanek's On-Set Photography
  • Tommy's Art
  • National Donor Programme & Hailsham Campaign Graphics
  • Trailer

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