|Original title:||Never let me go|
|Production country:||GB/USA 2010|
|Running time:||Approx. 103 min.|
Eight years after his last feature One Hour Photo, director Mark Romanek once again delivers a drama of quiet intensity with the bestselling adaptation Everything We Had to Give. The story is set within an alternate reality in 1960s England. Here, Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, along with many other children, grow up in the seclusion of an exclusive boarding school where they are carefully prepared for their future destiny. In the deceptive idyll of the school, any instinct to rebel is slowly but surely beaten out of them, so that once they grow up, they will not resist their destiny. For these children are nothing more than spare human parts, who at a certain age must donate one organ after another until they are no longer viable.
Only when they leave school as young adults do the three slowly realize that they are not granted a long future. While Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) enjoy their short happiness together, Kathy (Carey Mulligan) has to cope alone with the fact that she will be denied to spend the remaining time with her great love Tommy. Only when it seems too late is there any glimmer of hope.
All We Had to Give, the film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's bestselling novel (What Was Left of the Day), is a quiet drama that attempts to grip the viewer with gorgeous imagery and powerful acting performances. However, this is sometimes hampered by the fact that some important elements of the novel have been dispensed with. Why the characters simply surrender to their fate and show little willingness to fight even for their great love is hard to understand. The film only subtly hints that they are programmed from childhood to see their fate as something special. That's all the viewer learns. Nor about the medical background, the ethical dubiousness of cloning humans to delay the mortality of others, or the society of this alternate reality that allows such cloning. It's not necessarily easy to just accept all of this as a given.
But those who manage to do so will realize that this is actually where the film's very great strength lies. Because instead of turning the whole thing into a vision of the future a la The Island and getting lost in attempts to explain things that seem illogical in the end, the viewer is presented with reality as a given and concentrates entirely on the story of Kathy, Tommy and Ruth. And so an atmospheric love triangle full of drama and romance, but completely devoid of kitsch, can be told that attempts to answer in a very essential way the question of what makes us human.
The sustained pace and the tragedy hovering over everything make Everything We Had to Give a somewhat unwieldy pleasure. The story has a wonderful core, but real feel-good cinema looks different. That this doesn't necessarily have to be interpreted negatively, however, has been proven time and again in the past. And so a look into the world that Mark Romanek and his team have created is absolutely worthwhile. If you like moving love stories, told in wonderful pictures and carried by more than convincing actors, and if you also like to deal with ethical questions about being human, you should definitely not miss this movie. However, those who are bothered by a slow and at times somewhat cryptic narrative structure and prefer to be entertained by straightforward cinematic romances are unlikely to succumb to the magic of Everything We Had to Give.
An article by Frankfurt-Tipp