Review: Silence (2017)

silence

Martin Scorsese’s labour of love is an expansive – and frequently monotonous – portrait of faith in the face of persecution and torture. It’s sprawling and contemplative, more or less focused on one priest’s internal conflict as he searches for his mentor (Liam Neeson), who’s rumoured to have apostatised. Andrew Garfield, as capable as he is, never quite seems like the right fit in the lead role, perhaps because he’s outshone early on by Adam Driver. Continue reading “Review: Silence (2017)”

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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

If the entirety of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was as convincing as the scenes shared between returning stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, then the film would be an unmitigated success. Unfortunately, as it stands with its overstuffed narrative and cavalcade of uninspired villains, the film isn’t much better than its predecessor. With alter-ego Spider-Man riding high, Peter Parker (Garfield) is trapped, unsure how to sustain his relationship with Gwen without putting her in danger and failing in his efforts to understand more about his past. Continue reading “Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)”

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is an outsider with a passion for science and a crush on fellow high schooler Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). When Peter comes across a briefcase left after his father’s death, he’s lead to Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s research partner, and to an incident involving genetically modified spiders that leaves him with superhuman abilities. Assuming an alter ego of “Spider-Man”, he uses his powers to the benefit of the citizens of New Continue reading “Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)”

Review: Never Let Me Go (2010)

Never Let Me Go, Mark Romanek’s adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed and highly influential novel, chronicles the phases of three characters’ lives: Ruth, Kathy and Tommy, and marks his first film in nine years.

As children, Ruth, Kathy and Tommy (played by Ella Purnell, Izzy Meikle-Small and Charlie Rowe), spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school in the English countryside for children who are special.

As they grow into young adults (played by Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield), they move to The Cottages and find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them.

Ishiguro’s gentle sci-fi concept is executed with sombre subtlety by Romanek and, despite Alex Garland’s sometimes too methodical screenplay, preserves an eerie sense of mystery and discerning dubiety in its translation to screen. These elements, in a bid to keep the film realistic, are wisely buried within a wholly human story, one about love, loss and empathy.

Romanek’s successful direction is highlighted in the great care he has for the source material and the characters that inhabit it. His remarkable skill comes to light in the way he presents the dystopian British countryside as beautiful yet bleak. It perfectly juxtaposes the beautiful lives everyday people lead with the bleak lives lead by the donors.

The three central performances are equally astounding, each superbly displaying repressed desperation and their desire to achieve true happiness. Mulligan’s exquisite beauty and incandescent quality make her perfect as Kathy, confirming her newly won status, while Garfield is undeniably arresting as the troubled Tommy.

Knightley, who is left with the trickier role, hits the right notes of disdainful faux-sophistication, holding her own as the vindictive Ruth, the manipulative force of nature who interferes with the lives of Tommy and Ruth.

The supporting actors – Charlotte Rampling, Sally Hawkins, Nathalie Richard, Domhall Gleeson and Andrea Riseborough – hold their own against the powerful trio. Though none of them has much screen time, they all play their characters with conviction and restraint, further accentuating the central themes of loneliness and longing.

Rachel Portman’s etherial score, almost a character in itself, penetrates your heart, in a pondering, beautiful way that compliments, and often surmounts, the heart-rending narrative.

The only issue is with the sometimes irritatingly slow pacing, and the disproportionate narrative that works against audience involvement. This, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially considering the realistic and sinister themes the film explores – and is excellently concealed by the fantastic performances.

Never Let Me Go is not only a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of filmmaking, but a masterful adaptation and glorious cinematic achievement.