Unlike the books Kate and I have reviewed so far for this blog, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is neither recently published nor written by a Canadian, but I had to say something about it, as it was part of my TIFF 2010 experience. I'd been meaning to read one of Ishiguro's works for a long time. After all, he is a Booker prize winner and several of his works are on Peter Boxall's 1001 list. In July, finally, I picked up Never Let Me Go in an Ithaca, NY used-book store, and after finishing it, I couldn't help regretting that I'd waited so long to discover this author's works. Never Let Me Go is well-known and has been thoroughly reviewed, so I won't say too much about it here, except that it was haunting and subtle, and the story stayed with me for a long time afterward.
When I bought the book, I had no clue that a movie was forthcoming. My older daughter, Julia, who keeps a closer eye on Hollywood than I do, was the one who informed me of this fact, and she mentioned that Keira Knightley was starring in it. Well, when I saw it on the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) schedule, I just had to go see it. It was one of the premium showings, which meant that it cost twice as much as the regular showings, but the whole TIFF experience, including the after-film Q&A (featuring, among others, director Mark Romanek and Ishiguro himself!) made it very worthwhile.
Usually, seeing a movie based on a book I loved is a huge disappointment, so my expectations were low, but I went away reasonably satisfied. Knightley as Ruth was good, but Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield, playing Kathy and Tommy, were fantastic. There were some minor disappointments: the pacing is different compared to the book, a few significant scenes were cut, and certain pieces of information were given to us upfront, rather than revealed slowly as in the novel. Still, the film is beautifully shot and really does capture the essence of the novel, which explores the innocence of childhood and the definition of humanity.
Here is a final book-related anecdote. In my last post, I talked about my new BookCrossing experiences. A few weeks before TIFF, I finished Ishiguro's Remains of the Day, and I decided that the showing of Never Let Me Go would be the perfect place to release it into the wild. I arrived at Ryerson Theatre half-an-hour before the start of the film, and the queue went most of the way around a city block. Figuring that someone in the queue would want to take the book home, I gave it to the person in front of me and asked her to either keep it or pass it along to the front. I have no idea where the book ended up but I hope it now has a new owner who enjoys it as much as I did.