A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this romantic drama with sci-fi elements (which is based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro) is probably too offbeat to appeal to most teens, and its premise -- (possible spoiler alert) that the young people it follows have been specially bred to provide "spare parts" for "real" people -- is quite unsettling. As the main characters grow from preteens to teens to twentysomethings, they talk and think a great deal about love and sex (there's some partial female nudity) before finally experiencing these things first hand ... and then things get even more complicated. There's very little language or violence, but the overall tone is sinister and depressing.
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What's the story?
Kathy (Carey Mulligan) appears to work in some capacity in a hospital. In flashback, viewers learn about her past, growing up at a rather peculiar school. She falls in love with Tommy but loses him to her friend, Ruth. Before long, the children learn their real purpose (possible spoiler alert): They have been specially created for "spare parts" to be donated to "real," sick people. Years later, Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) are still together. Rumors begin to circulate that there may be special treatment for couples who are truly in love, but Kathy volunteers as a "carer," which will take her on a different path from her friends. Will these young people discover the secret behind their lives, and can true love conquer all?
Is it any good?
Based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro and directed by celebrated former music video maker Mark Romanek, this film is meticulously made and never less than interesting. It develops and sustains a specific, eerily effective mood that's hard to describe; it's somewhat dystopian but also somewhat like an alternate reality.
The three stars are captivating and charismatic, but that may not be enough to provide a real emotional connection in the movie's chilly, thoroughly depressing atmosphere. The overall science fiction idea hangs over the entire film like a dark cloud; it has no beginning or ending or center, and it's unchanging. Although the movie's ultimate point is to appreciate what little we're actually given (and also to value the real meaning of being human), it leaves little room for hope.
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