While there's certainly an element of science fiction to "Never Let Me Go," the new film by director Mark Romanek ("One Hour Photo") adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro's award-winning novel, it's clear from the start that this isn't a film about alternate futures — it's a film about living in the present.
Starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Keira Knightley, "Never Let Me Go" follows three close friends who grow up knowing the grim fates that await each of them, and their efforts to live, learn, and love in the too-short timelines they're given. When Garfield dropped by Movies Blog HQ, MTV News asked him about the sci-fi backdrop of the story, and whether it played a role in the way he approached his character, Tommy, a boy whose big heart is occasionally overshadowed by his fits of rage.
"Not really," Garfield told MTV News. "I think the sci-fi element is definitely a small backdrop. It's kind of a device for the story to fall out as it does."
"What is at the core of the story is a very human story, discussing what it is to have a soul, and how you prove what a soul is," he explained. "Do we have souls?"
According to Garfield, the central theme to "Never Let Me Go" has nothing to do with the science-fiction element of the film and what comes of the alternate future it presents. It's actually "about being human."
"The sci-fi element was an incredible Ishiguro creation, to create this microcosm of what it is to be alive, and how little time all of us have," he said. "It's analyzing how we choose to use it. It's reminding us, hopefully, that we do have a choice to we wake up in the morning and think, 'What do I want to do?' — not 'What should I do?' and 'What am I obliged to do?' but 'What do I want to do with this very unique day?'"
Adapted from a screenplay by Alex Garland ("The Beach," "28 Days Later"), "Never Let Me Go" follows the young trio from prestigious boarding school to life in the "real" world — a life led with full knowledge of their inevitable fates and how long they have left for everything they want to experience before they die. However, Garfield was quick to point out that the message of the film is a positive one.
"I think it can be a call to arms for that kind of excitement about life," he said. "And I love the story for that."
"Never Let Me Go" premiered during this weekend's Toronto International Film Festival, and will begin limited release in theaters this week.