Never Let Me Go ~ A Capsule Movie Review


Never Let Me Go ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

A 2010 movie that got little or no play in my area is one called Never Let Me Go. It’s about ten times more interesting and compelling that most of the crap that plays at the seven-screen multiplex in my neighborhood, but nobody asked me. It is currently available for viewing on HBO. Otherwise, I would probably have never seen it.

Never Let Me Go is about a group of kids at an English boarding school called Hailsham, specifically three kids: Tommy, Kathy and Ruth. The kids at Hailsham are just like kids anyplace else, with one striking difference. We learn about thirty minutes into the movie that they exist for one reason only. They are “clones” (although that word is never used); when they are at the appropriate age, their organs will be used to save the lives of others. Most of them will make two or three “donations,” at most, until they reach “completion,” which is a polite way of saying their sad lives will end at a young age.

Since the Hailsham kids have no family and no ties outside of school, all they have is each other; they don’t learn skills in school that will help them cope with the outside world because they won’t need them. Kathy and Tommy (played by Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield as older kids and as young adults) are drawn to each other from childhood. Under different circumstances, they would have fallen in love, married and lived happy lives. Ruth (Keira Knightley) witnessing the attraction between Tommy and Kathy, is jealous and afraid of being left behind; she decides that she and Tommy were meant for each other. She takes Tommy away from Kathy; Tommy seems more than willing to be taken. As Tommy and Ruth embark on donating their organs one by one, Kathy becomes a “carer,” meaning that her “donations” are delayed for a number of years so she can help to care for the donors as they undergo the horrific surgeries that will ultimately end their lives.  The question becomes: How much of a “normal” life can young people in such circumstances reasonably expect to have?

Never Let Me Go is based on a novel by the English novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s a memorable and intelligent little movie with poignant characters that seems to have been mostly overlooked. Too bad, because it might just be the best movie of 2010 that you never saw.

Copyright © 2011 by Allen Kopp

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