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TIFF ’10: Keira, Carey and Andrew in Mark Romanek’s “Never Let Me Go”

By Sean O’Connell

Hollywoodnews.com: This is it. My last entry in the ongoing “Road to Toronto” feature before I board a plane and head north for the madness that is the 35th Toronto International Film Festival.

The fest begins Thursday, and I’ll be reporting regularly from the wilds of the Great White North. To read my previous preview columns, punch “TIFF” into our search window. Today, Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and the boy who will be Spider-Man come to terms with some harsh truths about their past, their present, and their uncertain future.

Never Let Me Go

The Plot: Kathy, Tommy and Ruth live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school and the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.

The Director: Mark Romanek (“One Hour Photo”)

The Cast: Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, Charlotte Rampling, Sally Hawkins

The Scoop: From what I hear, the less you know about “Never” going into it, the better off you’ll be. We do know it’s based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s beloved novel, and that it has serious talent involved at almost every creative turn. Romanek impressed critics by leading Robin Williams down dark corridors in “Photo,” and may have patiently awaited his feature-length follow up. The film has started to play festivals, but has split critics. The ones that like it really, really love it. The rest find it cold and detached. I find out on Thursday evening. It can’t get here soon enough.

Awards Potential: It will be very hard to speculate on “Never” until it’s seen, and early word isn’t helping place the film’s chances. If the picture catches on with a strong contigent of Academy voters, top categories like Best Picture and Director for Romanek certainly are a possibility. It sounds like Knightley is given the most chance to shine in the film, while Mulligan and Garfield give internal performances. Alex Garland certainly has a shot at an Adapted Screenplay Oscar if the script connects, and technical categories seem like safe bets. Rachel Portman’s score, for example, is getting a lot of early praise. More on “Never” as the film continues to screen.

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