Friday, April 8, 2011

Never Let Me Go. Kazuo Ishiguro, How Could You?

Movies based on good books, even when they are themselves good, are never more than shadows of the original work.

I bought and downloaded the Kindle version of Never Let Me Go, and read it over the weekend, finishing it Tuesday morning. My reaction was even stronger than to the movie. I put the book down in a virtual sense (eBook remember) and said to no one, but intended for Ishiguro, "Fuck you." I meant it. I felt it. The thing is, despite the words, it was praise.

Life changing books are rare these days. The last one I can think of was StarStruck, mentioned in a previous blog, and a very different sort of experience.

A life changing book, or a life changing anything, is personal: the effect is outside the realms of review or criticism. I read a one star review of Never Let Me Go on Goodreads. The reviewer was perfectly reasonable in explaining why the book meant nothing to him. I understood why, for him, this was true. For me it was exactly the oposite. I was devastated, first by the movie, then more so by the book. Ishiguro's telling of the story through his main character is expressed in an honest, unassuming voice, but it left me an emotional jumble. I fell in love with the main characters, yet after finishing, I hated the author for creating them, and then trapping them in his story. How could he do that? How could they let him?

It's been a few days now. Although I'm not in a rush, I'm beginning to understand something of my reaction to this story: I suspect it has to do with Never Let Me Go invoking the feeling that, as your life stretches out, it gets thin. The people you've grown up with in all those complicated give and take relationships that cannot be summed up simply as love begin dropping out of existence---becoming frozen in cherished memories. "Completed" as the book says. You can't be alive and complete.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Never Let Me Go, the Movie

Three days ago, I watched the movie, Never Let Me Go, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. It tore at me. When it was over, I didn't know what to do. I was sure I had missed things, important things. Maybe if I watched it again I could sort it out. I didn't trust this plan. I suspected, by filling in the blanks, I would be trying to defuse the impact of what I had just experienced. I had experienced something vitally important. It was, in fact, that feeling of vital importance that I didn't want to disturb. The problem was, the movie had left me an agitated jumble. I was afraid this could be dangerous. It might actually be bad for my heart---my real physical heart. What could I do?

The lead character had been played by Carey Mulligan. A few years earlier, she had played the lead guest character in the Doctor Who episode, Blink. For most fans, and me, this was the best episode of the new era, and possibly the best episode of any era; Perhaps I should watch it. I did.

I was struck by the similarities to Never Let Me Go. Not in the over all story---Doctor Who is supposed to be a children's show---yet there were scenes and themes that turned on the same deep emotions. I could easily imagine this episode being the thing that got Carey Mulligan her part in Never Let Me Go, or at lest got her the audition. Blink did it's job. I settled down, some. Not enough to sleep, and it was, by then, 1:30 in the morning.

TiMER! A little, low budget sci-fi movie staring Emma Caulfield from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It had a vaguely similar theme of emotional unintended consequences, but it kept it's tone light and bittersweet. A nice little movie. I had watched it once before; it was available on Netflix Instant View. I watched it again, enjoyed it, and finally slept.

Later in the morning, I woke up rested but with a renewed aching heart---the metaphorical one this time---no danger of actually dying from a movie. I still didn't feel ready to watch it again. Perhaps I thought, I sould read the book. (To be continued . . .)