Exclusive Interview With Mark Romanek On Never Let Me Go

Back in the fall, I got a chance to interview director Mark Romanek on his new film Never Let Me Go. With the Blu-Ray now out, I figured I’d re-post the interview since I assume many of you would be interested in it.

A sensitive study of love and mortality, Mark Romanek’s sci fi film Never Let Me Go pulls at the heart strings. Romanek sat down with me to talk about his film last September during the Fantastic Fest in Austin, just before the film’s wide release in October. With the release of Never Let Me Go on Blu-ray this week, fans can own this artistic film and hear for themselves from Romanek in a great featurette.

While technically a sci fi film, Romanek’s vision for the screen version of Kazuo Ishiguro’s moving novel feels very much like a touching melodrama. A story less about a dystopian world of cloning–and the political and moral issues associated with it–and more about love and loss.

This choice, to downplay the sci fi aspects, was purposeful. Romanek spoke of the highly emotional tone of the book, and recapturing that in the film. “I wasn’t making a sci fi, I was making a love story. I would describe it as a love story where the sci fi is a patina over the film. The sci fi aspect is just a parable for bigger themes. What Ishiguro is saying is what’s important is treating people with love and those relationships.”

Due to the extreme emotional resonance of the film, Romanek said that making the film was like “emotional boot camp.” “The editing alone is a journey…any film is going to be a process where you learn things about yourself.” Romanek appreciates Ishiguro’s novel, and said he’s one of his favorite authors. “I can’t believe I got to meet him!“

The clones in the film are the main characters, and as the story is told through their eyes, audiences share their emotional journey-and in a way–their fate. Romanek said, “Since our lives are so short, it makes you change perspective about what’s important. There is a graceful place of acceptance Kathy comes to at the end. In doing my research I came across this beautiful Japanese notion, artistically, of the joyful acceptance of the futility of life.”

The moral issues surrounding cloning are only suggested at in the film. But they’re present, nevertheless, though subtly. Romanek said, “It’s more present in the book…because we were making a film about a love story we didn’t feel it needed to be about that. We weren’t making a political statement…it goes more into the politics and morality in the book but we wanted the audience to me emotionally invested in the love story. It doesn’t work when the politics is there.”

Romanek’s filming style brought a lot to the atmosphere of this film. The lonely, almost bleak feel complimented the futility of the clones’ existence. Romanek has directed a number of music videos, and is a master at setting up artistic scenes that set a definite mood. Like the scene of the wide, deserted beach with the abandoned ship washed ashore and neglected. The sense of loneliness is countered only by the sense of insignificance. Romanek said of the film’s atmosphere, “I like creating rules on set, so the team isn’t all over the place. I didn’t want strong colors, I wanted the color palate to be gentle. I forbade the color black for the film…I thought it was too harsh for a movie about mortality. I wanted the film to have a gentle delivery of these disturbing truths.”

When asked about who the film will appeal to, Romanek said, “We can’t figure out who the demographic of this film is. We’ve had some people give it rave reviews, and we’ve had other people who don’t connect with it. I do know that people who do connect to it are deeply moved by it…I hope it’s a gentle reminder that life is brief. Love is the important thing, the rest is nonsense.”

Remember to check out Never Let Me Go on Blu-Ray, now out in stores everywhere!

For our review on the Blu-Ray, click here.