It is the past. Human technology has advanced to the point where living past a hundred is considered the norm, but at what cost?
There have been many films made around the same general concept, but this one is a little different. That it is set in the past makes you immediately wonder how it is possible to achieve such a feat. Carey Mulligan’s short introduction gives it away.
If I come across as overly harsh towards this film, I suppose that it is probably because when I saw it, it was the third or fourth film I watched during the very long journey that connects Oostende, Belgium, and Melbourne, Australia. It could also be because the film isn’t very good. In fact, I can safely say that the only reason that the film was watchable at all was because of the superb acting of the female leads – Carey Mulligan and Kiera Knightley (with the occasional appearance of Charlotte Rampling and her piercing eyes). And while Carey and Kiera are both very pretty, that’s not even what makes the film watchable – it is their acting.
The main problem with this film is that it doesn’t quite know what it is. One the one hand, it tries to be that creepy mystery film – this is a boarding school where the children are special, why are they special? Stay tuned to find out. On the other, it is a simple film about a love triangle set in the context of a social commentary about different classes of people and perhaps also asking us to examine the value of love in the context of our own mortality. The fact that the film doesn’t really commit strongly to any of these is frustrating. The fact that Charlotte Rampling’s character of the school principal remains woefully underdeveloped is also frustrating.
Indeed it is the quality of the acting, and the emotional investment made into Mulligan’s character which kept me watching a film I would have otherwise turned off. Mulligan’s career has been a little bit hit-and-miss with films like An Education (hit) and Wall St: Money Never Sleeps (miss). Sadly the idea of this film is far more interesting than the film itself, but it is nonetheless watchable until the end. The production values are good, and it is also fairly well-scripted, the casting directer deserves some kind of award for casting Isobel Meikle-Small as the younger version of Kathy – Carey Mulligan’s character. I would add that you should only see this film if you don’t have to pay for it.