Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News

Mark Romanek and Alex Garland to crack Kazuo Ishiguro's NEVER LET ME GO!

Hey folks, Harry here... One of my favorite directors that I've been rooting for to find his path in the theatrical world is Mark Romanek. I loved his ONE HOUR PHOTO and was quite looking forward to his take on THE WOLFMAN, but ever since, I've kinda been holding my breath to see where he would land and with what project. I'm relieved to say he seems to have found an ideal project for his particular talents. Kazuo Ishiguro's NEVER LET ME GO. This is a science fiction novel set in an alternate reality of 1990s England that is so dystopian that it has been known to be compared to Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD and Orwell's 1984. However, at its heart, it is nice that it has one, is a romance that overrides everything. With Alex Garland adapting - the themes will not be lost and the integrity of Ishiguro's novel should be preserved and perhaps even further explored. The key to me is that I feel this is the right step up from ONE HOUR PHOTO for Romanek, which was confirmed when I chatted with him earlier today and he said, "My experience on THE WOLFMAN confirmed for me that I need to be making smaller, more personal films, working with like-minded people, who will provide me with a greater degree of creative autonomy." I asked him about the alternate time frame and setting in England and how 'visually' he would part from the reality of 90's UK and the Mark spoke thusly, "the film actually is a sci-fi movie, but of a very subtle variety. it's an alternate history piece -- a "what if" piece. it takes place in three parts: an alternate 70's, an alternate 80's, and an alternate now-ish. so, even though it is, at heart, a love story, it will be quite visual. The author Ishiguro described it to me like this: "it's our world, but seen through a distorted filter."" The film is shooting in March in England under the banners of DNA Films and Fox Searchlight. This is one to keep our eyes on, smart sci-fi is not as common as it should be.

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:30 p.m. CST

    I have been meaning to read this ...

    by Shan

    ... and other books by this author for quite some time. The plot line and especially the alternate future - or at least the fact that it's not set in our history did grab my attention as much as the main plot.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:32 p.m. CST


    by hulkbuster

    this was bad

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:32 p.m. CST


    by hulkbuster

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:32 p.m. CST


    by hulkbuster

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:32 p.m. CST


    by hulkbuster

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:33 p.m. CST


    by hulkbuster

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:34 p.m. CST

    in all seriousness...

    by hulkbuster

    this was the worst book ive ever read. its a shame there wasting any money or talent on this tremendous piece of shit

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:34 p.m. CST

    really Eighth?

    by hulkbuster

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:35 p.m. CST

    is no one on on saturday afternoons Ninth?

    by hulkbuster

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:42 p.m. CST


    by hulkbuster

    i cannot emphasize how bad this book was. why would anyone want to actually see it? well i guess the writing style might manuvere its way above the third grade

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:43 p.m. CST


    by Shan

    You thought the book was rubbish? That seems like a let down - it certainly *sounded* interesting when I read the back cover.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 2:44 p.m. CST

    Romanek's got skills! I'll eat up anything he'll come out with

    by Adrian Marcato

    Especially with a source material from Kazuo Ishiguro. I'm glad to hear his comments about working on Wolfman, which I always felt, while definitely within his capabilities, was not really worthy of his voice. Though I'm sure he would have made a kick ass movie, sometimes directors need to follow their own voice. I know that sounds weird considering the source is from a novel, but I think this will merge wonderfully with his quite spectacular artistic eye. Romanek seems to, like Fincher (whom he worked for through Propoganda), transcend that negative connotation with being a music video/ commercial director like that Michael Bay kid so fully embody. Even his music video work transcends expectations, 99 problems and Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' are phenomenal pieces of visual short subject regardless of their cross promotional intentions for record sales. Not too many people can do that. One Hour Photo was a great movie, very subtle, very creepy, that showed Romanek could helm a feature and that he could himself write a taught piece of fiction. This film is one to watch.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Mark is one of those directors

    by hallmitchell

    Where you just give him the money and let him loose. A big shame things didn't work out for him on the Wolfman.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 3:21 p.m. CST

    The book was curiously unengaging

    by I am_NOTREAL

    Not sure if it's Ishiguro's style (the only thing I've read by him) that put me off or what, but while the idea was good, and I made it until the end, I just never really felt it like it seems like I should. I'd even forgotten that I read it at all until I saw this.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 3:31 p.m. CST

    Really? guy walks off a 80 million dollar movie

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    and still gets work? Really?

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 4:05 p.m. CST

    I can dig it

    by Ribbons

    Mark Romanek's a talented guy; always interesting to hear he's up to something new.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 4:18 p.m. CST

    One of my favourite books & directors

    by Chopper3

    I'm so pleased to here this news, it's one of those books that really 'stays with you' - I can't wait to see it.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 4:26 p.m. CST

    Loved the book.

    by Gilkuliehe

    It's all in how the story unfolds, so I won't spoil it. If done right this might be a very beautiful and sad love story... With a lot of themes to chew on. I trust Romanek to knock this out of the park, so count me in.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 4:36 p.m. CST

    Mark, Mark, Mark

    by Brian

    I love this guy. One of my favorite possessions is his Work of Director Mark Romanek DVD. I really dug One Hour Photo too. That said: Mark needs to settle down a bit. I can tell he's a fastidious twat with delusions of grandeur. He needs to knuckle down and bang out another couple of movies in short order. And, yes, he needs to do more intimate work... We all know intimate means LOWER BUDGET. Pay your FILM dues, Mark, and get that film career crack-a-lackin'! We're all waiting here. Everyone knows you gotta ramp up to big budget films that you can actually have creative control of. C'mon. C'mon. Really, bro. C'mon.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 5:16 p.m. CST

    ******************STATIC DVD******************

    by Spiderwalk

    If your reading this Mark, Please can we have STATIC on dvd, i freakin' love that movie....pretty pretty please, with brass nobs on.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 5:45 p.m. CST

    I'm still sore about THE WOLFMAN...

    by brokentusk

    Joe Johnston just doesn't have the ability to make the kind of intelligent, subtle and (therefore more) terrifying film than Romanek would have made. Instead, we'll get a typical horror make-up showcase which happens to have a good cast. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but I’ve seen JURASSIC PARK III. <p> Oh, what could have been...

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 6:01 p.m. CST

    That should read...

    by brokentusk

    "... more terrifying film THAT...", not "... more terrifying film THAN...". <p> It's just science.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 6:18 p.m. CST

    I always thought 1984 lacked heart, honestly.

    by Stormwatcher

    I have trouble taking SciFi that doesn't at least give me someone or something to cherish. I actually love AKIRA (the Anime not the Manga as I haven't read it) since I feel there is actual emotions at play with the characters, same with some other films I am too lazy to list but will say that V for Vendetta and Equilibrium lacked heart and thus my total love.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 7:28 p.m. CST

    "With Alex Garland writing - the themes will not be lost"

    by PotSmokinAlien

    Ever see a little movie/piece of garbage/waste of time called Sunshine? If dude can lose track of what the hell he's talking about when writing a screenplay of his own, well then God help him adapting someone else's work.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 7:32 p.m. CST


    by PotSmokinAlien

    If you can get your hands on it in any form, AKIRA the book is fucking unforgettable. Very, very, very different than the movie, and in the best possible way... if you think the movie is epic, aw man, wait till you read the book. It just rules. Everything about it is fucking fantastic.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 7:59 p.m. CST

    I love Alex Garland

    by TheDark0Knight

    hopefully he doesnt fuck up the 3rd act. very excited for this one.

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 9:27 p.m. CST

    He always fucks up the third act

    by comedian_x

    and will continue to do so. I guarantee you that the reason his Halo script didn't pass muster was "third act issues."

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 9:29 p.m. CST


    by Elkatak

    I always confuse Romanek with Marc Pellington. But I checked imdb now, to make sure... why hasn´t Romanek made anything since ´one hour photo´ ? Brilliant film!

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 11:01 p.m. CST


    by Buster Gonads

    Of course to each his own when it comes to books...well...anything really. Ishiguro has a very "distant" writing style i think and that could make his work seem unengaging. But it works for me. Its subtle and creeps under your skin. He's had some duds...the world war II story about the kid who loses his mom to some chinese warlord was pretty dire. But never let me go is a return to the form of remains of the day i think. It should make for a very gently devastating film (sorry i have the flu, brain not working too well, that sounds like a cheap sound bite).

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 11:06 p.m. CST

    I'll give you a soundbyte, Buster!

    by Ribbons

  • Dec. 6, 2008, 11:07 p.m. CST

    Let's try that again...

    by Ribbons

    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is "Pants-Shittingly Good!" -Ribbons, random AICN Talkback

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 12:50 a.m. CST

    Why do people always mention 1984 and BNW together?

    by Monkey Butler

    They're totally, totally different. Anyone that doesn't understand why clearly hasn't thought about either since they studied them in high school. I'd actually love to see a totally straight adaptation of BNW made where everyone's lives are fucking perfect for them, except everyone's life below Alpha class are totally horrifying to us. BNW's satire is much, much cooler than 1984, which for all Orwell's incisiveness about the nature of power, ended up being a bit childish.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 8:36 a.m. CST

    Loved The Book Too

    by LaserPants

    Excellent book. It pulls a neat trick in that its secretly a kind of gothic horror science fiction novel, but it keeps its secrets hidden for well into the novel. Its also heartbreaking.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 9:33 a.m. CST

    >>Why do people always mention 1984 and BNW together?

    by Genre_Boy

    @Monkey Butler <p>They're both anti-Democratic dystopian novels. '1984' is distinctly fascist in tone while 'BNW' is corporatist. The class distinctions in 'BNW' are genteel, rather than enforced by a police-state.</p> <p>I figure that people who equate the two novels just aren't willing to look under the hood too hard. Either that, or they haven't read one or the other.</p> <p>As for Ishiguro's novel, it sounds an AWFUL LOT like 'The Island' (2005). (Yes, that's a Michael Bay directed movie.)</p> <p>I'm surprised that the Ishiguro novel didn't come up at the time that the lawsuits over 'The Island' started to fly.</p>

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 9:41 a.m. CST


    by hulkbuster

    how can anyone actually like this book? really please tell me. the narrator he chooses seems incapable of writing in a way any high school teacher would approve of, we are given 0 reasons to have sympathy or even like any character, figuring out a major plot twist was relativly easy as far as plot twists go, its not even a romamce really except for like the last two chapters. And the ending christ the ending. it would be "heartbreaking" if we were encouraged to give a shit

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 9:51 a.m. CST

    Smart Sci-Fi is called Science Fiction!!

    by godoffireinhell

    The term "sci-fi" was coined specifically to refer to the kind of schlocky, dumbed down, spectacle-driven garbage that Hollywood is mainly interested in when making genre product.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 9:54 a.m. CST

    '1984' is distinctly fascist in tone?

    by godoffireinhell

    What the fuck? The last time I read 1984 it was a pretty damn convincing ANTI-fascist book.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 10:56 a.m. CST

    Anti-Democratic? More Like Anti-Authoritarian

    by LaserPants

    They're both anti-authoritarian novels. Now whereas Big Brother is more directly about a brutal fascist police state and BNW is about a kind of pharmacologically controlled dystopia, they both deal with life in and resistance against authoritarian control. The class-distinctions are hardly "genteel" in BNW when people are assigned a class, this class is enforced by a rigorous (forced) regimen of pills, and one can never change their lot in life save through suicide. The oppression of control may not be as iron fisted as in 1984, but the ends are essentially the same -- people being controlled by an unjust authoritarian government.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 11:04 a.m. CST

    Hulkbuster, Give A Call When You've Lived Some, Eh?

    by LaserPants

    It may give you some more empathy for the characters in a book like NEVER LET ME GO. Now, of course, it may not hit you as hard as, say, WORLD WAR HULK, which I'm sure you could empathize with and wept bitter tears over, but for those of us who have left mother's basement and lived a little? Been in relationships, seen people die, broken hearts and had hearts broken, dreams shattered, repaired, walking wounded, et all; you know, all that "adult" stuff that isn't porn? NEVER LET ME GO is a heartbreaking novel filled with a kind of aching longing as well as being deeply spooky / creepy / plausible. I loved it. The best novel I've read in years.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 11:05 a.m. CST

    Of Course THE ROAD Is Better

    by LaserPants

    But NEVER LET ME GO sits right alongside it in a place of honor on my bookshelf.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 11:50 a.m. CST


    by hulkbuster

    i sincerly apperciate you explaining rationally why you liked this book while simultaneously insulting me in the process. That is cetainly the best way to help me understand where you are coming from. What they go through is not the problem for me, its the fact that there so damn stupid letting others guide them through there life like they have no control. They werent even good people, there was nothing i could like about any of them. Even if they went through horrible things they were selfish,stupid, assholes. so even if they went through all those "adult" things. I found myself not caring. There is no "romance" in this book, its fleeting relationships, with no meaning. Its people more concerned with themselves than others. If i wanted more of that i would have stayed in high school. You list all the things they went through like they were bound to that by some unseeable force. You also have not mentioned the writing style, which had i wrote like that in school i would have failed many a paper. on a side note, My parents dont have a basement.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 12:09 p.m. CST

    "there so damn stupid"

    by godoffireinhell

    Oh God, the irony!!

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 12:10 p.m. CST


    by LaserPants

    You do realize that the narrator is a young woman, right? Her voice sounds totally natural and realistic. Furthermore, the children at the home were told they could never leave and that they are there to serve. Growing up in a similar environment, controlled and brainwashed since birth to have a similar focus, anyone would react in a similar way, have flattened or muted emotions, and only those with that extra spark of wit would look further than the confines of their walls.<br><br> Oh, and, news for you -- most of life is filled with fleeting relationships that are ultiamtely shallow, cold, or meaningless. "Romance" is a fiction. Of course, many regular people convince themselves that their biological drives are something more than that; its called the delusion of consensus reality. This delusion doesn't exist for the children at the home, there is no romance in these children, because its been bred out of them in their tightly controlled environment. Still, Kathy manages to experience some kind of aching unspoken longing, knowing there's something else, something missing, and thus she strives to find out what it is... crushing depression and numb acceptance to follow. Again, live a little, read it again, see how you feel.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 12:29 p.m. CST

    People always say "mother's" basement

    by Ribbons

    Instead of "parents'." Why? Do they assume that children of a broken family are less likely to have healthy social relationships? Are they implying that a combination of poor genetic stock and crushing disappointment has already caused the father to die of a heart attack? Do they naturally assume that the son has already fulfilled the first requirement of his Oedipus complex and killed the father off? Does a "mother's basement" conjure up images of the womb? Perhaps grown men talking about "mother" is reminiscent of Psycho? Things to ponder, things to ponder...

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Oh, and LaserPants

    by Ribbons

    You're not ZombieSolutions by any chance, are you? Not meant to be an insult of any kind, just taking a shot in the dark here...

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 12:49 p.m. CST

    I Think Mother's Basement Sounds More Pathetic

    by LaserPants

    Most children, especially males, are more bonded to their mothers than their fathers, and thus, being seen as unable (or unwilling) to cut the umbilical cord / apron strings has stronger connotations of being weak, dependent, and sexually/psychologically immature. Killing the father in an Oedipal frenzy hasn't even been able to occur in the Mother's Basement of the Soul, because the adult-child hasn't even gotten out from under her apron yet; it represents a weak-willed persona at a perpetual standstill much more than "Parent's Basement" or "Father's Basement" does, imho.<br><br> I do not know who ZombieSolutions is, so I can't take it as an insult even if it was meant as one! But no, I am not him/her/it.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 1:02 p.m. CST


    by Series7

    Wasn't good, I don't know what Harrys all up in arms about. I remember his big Wolfman crusade, but I still don't get it. Alien 3 showed a lot more promise in a music director then One Hour step about DTV.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 1:36 p.m. CST

    1984 & Brave New World...

    by DarthCorleone

    The simpler reasons they are often grouped together is that they are both British, were written reasonably close to each other, and no other dystopian future novel except those two is widely taught in our public school curricula. They are the closest things to genre fiction that are widely respected and seen as worthy literature. <br><br>Regardless, I'm with you. <em>Brave New World</em> is one of my favorite books ever, and the themes are very different.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 2:01 p.m. CST


    by Ribbons

    He used to post in these Talkbacks and The Zone (and still might for all I know), and he too liked Never Let Me Go and often talked about how he believed the concept of love was a delusion. You two may have gotten along, I guess.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 2:12 p.m. CST

    the narrator can be whoever the hell the author wants

    by hulkbuster

    i would just like to have something better than i was writing in middle school stylisticly speaking. And you have a very depressing view of life, you have my pity. I choose to live my life with the belief that there is romance there is love and there is something beyond cynacism for humanity. People are more than urges. Read it again? why? so i can learn to stop believing in romance? no. i'll take my idealism, it will leave me happier than your alternative. This book had its points certainly. And i can see the point your arguing but it was overall just poorly done. Poorly written with hollow characters who are content to be meaningless.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 2:16 p.m. CST

    to godoffireinhell...

    by hulkbuster

    what makes you think im really concerned about correct grammar? its a tb for christs sake

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 4:18 p.m. CST

    Ha! Yeah, We Probably Would've Gotten Along

    by LaserPants

    Either that or we would've hated each other! Haha! You know how that goes.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 4:27 p.m. CST

    The Novel NEVER Says Anything About There Not Being Love

    by LaserPants

    Where the hell did you get that from? If anything, it seems Kathy yearns for love after a fashion. Its achingly, hauntingly beautiful precisely because love is basically impossible for her since she is little more than a product bred for the Medical Industrial Complex. I really think you need to read it again. There is far more romance in yearning and longing than some trite "cute meet" love story. I think your definition of "love" and "romance", at least in terms of art, is rather limited. That I think that love is largely a delusion is my own opinion. Hell, I've been "in love" before, will probably be "in love" again, but MOST of my relationships have been shallow, physical things, and I think MOST people's are, whether they want to believe it or not. Even while "in love," its never far from my mind that its an illusion largely born out by instinctual forces far beyond my rational control. Its genetic. Its physical. Everything else is imagination. Which is great! I love the imagination! I also love romantic ideals. But romantic ideals go far beyond "love" in the sense of two people forming relationships in which sex and emotional dependence are the cornerstones. Again, maybe its not the kind of thing you like, but on a second read you may find something(s) you missed...

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 5:43 p.m. CST

    This may not be Children of Men awesome...

    by Christopher3

    But it should be at least Remains of the Day awesome. Great book.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 7:20 p.m. CST

    Mark Pellington - Arlington Road, The Mothman Prophecies

    by eggart

    Two of the worst pictures of the last ten years. One Hour Photo: pretty good.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 7:43 p.m. CST

    its not impossible

    by hulkbuster

    and thats half part of why i dont dig this book. they all just accept there "fate". A trite love story at least leave you with a feeling other than despondancy. I'm sorry you have had shallow relationships but I like to think that every relationship i have has depth romantic or otherwise. If there was romance in longing this whole world would be full of cupids. It doesnt come from just wanting. romance is in actions. I am not saying your point for the book isnt there in the intended meaning. I just want to believe in a world that is driven beyond something other than urges, and i will. The whole thing could have been done better. Maybe if i gave a damn about weither or not any of these people lived or died i could see ypur point more. but i dont. there was no real longing no real desires, just brief physical conact. and they world needs to be told that everything doesnt just boil down to that,because that is an awful world

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 7:55 p.m. CST

    They'll give it a happy ending...

    by Lost_Horizon

    ...of course. I'm somewhat fond of this book, although I'll be the first to admit it's very overrated. Thing about Never Let Me Go is, it expresses the exact same themes as The Remains of the Day, just in a completely different setting. Ishiguru merges themes from his two heritages, infusing the Japanese desire to save face with stuffy British stoicism and commitment to duty to create characters so honorably resigned to their fates that you just want to slap them silly. I was hoping Fernando Meirelles (or someone with a similar approach to literary adaptations) would develop it, but... c'est la vie, I guess.

  • Dec. 7, 2008, 8:06 p.m. CST

    Oh, and...

    by Lost_Horizon

    ... it's so NOT a science fiction story. Not even "of the subtle variety". It's about the individual defining what, for them, is a worthy life.

  • Dec. 8, 2008, 4:46 a.m. CST

    But It So IS A Science Fiction Story

    by LaserPants

    Who said that science fiction can't deal with themes of defining the self, or finding meaning in ones life? The main characters are, essentially, meat, clones, bred to be used as Medical Cattle for "real" people. If thats not sci fi, I don't know what is. Feel free to widen thine perceptions of what genre literature can do.

  • Dec. 8, 2008, 8:47 a.m. CST

    Spiderwalk, Static HAS been released on DVD! H-A-S.

    by half vader

    Every Romanek thread we get this. I got mine from Amazon a few months back.

  • Dec. 8, 2008, 8:51 a.m. CST

    And no, Godoffireinhell that's not why it was coined

    by half vader

    although I guess we can't ask uncle Forry any more, who coined it.

  • Dec. 8, 2008, 11:05 a.m. CST


    by Lost_Horizon

    I didn't say science fiction couldn't deal with those themes. I merely maintain that the science in question has to be more than a shadowy prop in the background. The science has to do more than make a cameo appearance. The story is about how cruel a society can get, and the mechanism it utilizes to get to that point is irrelevant. The characters never question the system. They never even think about it. It's about them dealing with their oppression in a way that makes sense to them. The source of the oppression could have been anything. Yes, it has vague elements of science in it, but I just personally don't think of it as sci-fi. I only object to the filmmakers classifying it as such, because I fear if they over-emphasize those elements, they will be missing the point. I certainly am not dismissing that genre. I just don't think this qualifies as such.

  • Dec. 8, 2008, 1:25 p.m. CST

    1984 is a love story too. If you read it.


  • Dec. 8, 2008, 8:28 p.m. CST

    I Dunno, I Think It Qualifies As Sci-Fi

    by LaserPants

    The science elements are subtle and largely shadowy, but the speculative sociology of the characters as a kind of lower caste non citizen in what can only be described as an oppressive future-now society which allows such things to happen is totally sci-fi. They were bred as medical cattle and protectors of medical cattle! If its not sci-fi, certainly modern gothic horror (in the classic sense -- a precursor of sci-fi), with some elements of science fiction. I'd call both 1984 and Brave New World sci-fi as well, or at least containing many sci-fi genre elements, but many people would not...