Monday, April 16, 2012

Big Screen Angst: Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go

If you haven't seen or read Never Let Me Go yet, don't let me ruin it for you here. It's a unique story with a fun, mysterious concept. And I'm one picture of Keria Knightly leaning on Andrew Garfield's shoulder away from spoiling it. 

Keira Knightly as Ruth and Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Tommy 
So Tommy, Kathy and Ruth are clones. They were created to donate their organs so that the general population could live well over 100. They grow up in a nice little boarding school and when they turn about 25, they start donating things. Most of them die around their third or fourth donation.

Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Tommy Andrew Garfield NLMG
Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Tommy Andrew Garfield
Tommy and Kathy have always been in love; from the time they were children and Kathy was the only one who showed bullied Tommy any kindness. He's got a big heart and both as a child and as Andrew Garfield, he's impossible not to like. His relationship with Kathy is just pure sweetness. She's clearly much quicker than he is, but she never condescends to him, never says or does anything to make him feel less than. And it isn't just her. Their relationship is a beautiful give and take - while Tommy isn't particularly intelligent, he's an expert in Kathy. He always knows what she's thinking and what to say and how to say it.

Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Tommy Andrew Garfield NLMG
Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Tommy Andrew Garfield
As time goes on, jealous Ruth snaps up the somewhat passive Tommy for herself. She knows Tommy and Kathy belong together, but that doesn't prevent her from keeping them apart for years and years.

One of my favorite moments in the film is screen-capped below. It's a complex scene in which Tommy tells Kathy his theory that the art they created as children was kept so that should two of them fall in love, the art could be used to prove they were telling the truth, and thus the pair could be granted a deferral on the whole organ-donation thing. At first, when Tommy tells Kathy this theory, Kathy calls it wild. Tommy looks stung - either because he perceives Kathy is questioning his intelligence or because he wants so desperately to believe his theory is true. Then, when Kathy asks if Tommy plans to apply for a deferral with Ruth, Tommy says it wouldn't work. Our first thought (and Kathy's) is that it wouldn't work because he doesn't truly love Ruth. But then Tommy explains it wouldn't work because he never had any art selected to be kept by the school. Oh. But perhaps Tommy is thinking even if he wanted to apply with Kathy, he couldn't. They both end the scene considerably upset for a whole slew of reasons. It's a great scene.

Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Tommy Andrew Garfield
Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Tommy Andrew Garfield
The characters break apart as they grow up. Kathy becomes a carer, taking care of her fellow clones as they donate their organs away. After a decade apart, the three characters finally reunite. As Ruth is about to undergo her third and what will probably be final donation, she wants to put things right for Tommy and Kathy. She suggests they try and ask for a deferral so they can have a few years together before their organs are harvested. It gives them hope.

Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Tommy Andrew Garfield
False hope, as it turns out. There's no such thing as a deferral. Their brief time together is all the time they'll get. Obviously, this is angsty because they're all about to die. But it's also angsty because the story is really a metaphor for all of our lives. None of us get enough time. We're all about to die. What's the difference between 28 and 102 years in the scope of eternity? It's a sad thought. We're all fleeting.

Carey Mulligan as Kathy and Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Tommy 
Carey Mulligan as Kathy and Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Andrew Garfield NLMG Tommy
Way to bring it down, Angst Report. Let's focus on Andrew Garfield for a moment instead. He's so good at making you like him. All he has to do is stand there, looking open and honest, and he breaks your heart. The best scene of the film (and novel) is the moment in which Tommy has his final breakdown. The audience is screaming at the characters, "JUST RUN AWAY!" but it never even crosses their mind.

Carey Mulligan as Kathy and Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Andrew Garfield
Carey Mulligan as Kathy and Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Andrew Garfield NLMG Tommy
It's a lovely, sad story. And not just because everything that happens to these characters feels so unfair, but because it's basically what happens to all of us eventually.

Andrew Garfield as Tommy in Never Let Me Go Tommy Never Let Me Go Tommy Andrew Garfield
And also Andrew Garfield.

2 comments:

  1. Haven't seen this yet, so have just skipped to the comments to say that Andrew Garfield is in one of my favourite angst films, 'Boy A'. If you haven't already seen it, I would strongly recommend it for an angst dose.

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  2. Yes! Boy A was one of my earliest Andrew Garfield experiences. Totally heartbreaking. Definitely check out Never Let Me Go - he's SO good in it :)

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