Fate Prevails in Never Let Me Go (DVD)
Based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day), Never Let Me Go follows two girls and a boy who are raised at Hailsham, a boarding school in England. The children never leave the school, and they earn tokens with which they can buy toys—broken dolls and discards from other children.
Hailsham is a very special boarding school—the children are clones who are bred to be organ donors. When they grow up they will donate between one and four organs and then they will expire. Oddly, the donors seem resigned to their fate, and only rebel when love draws them together.
Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) star as the three children grown-up—two are donors and one is a “carer” who will soon be a donor. Although there is a connection between Kathy (Mulligan) and Tommy (Garfield), it is the emotionally needy Ruth (Knightley) who manages to win him over. When the three learn there’s a chance to defer their surgeries if a couple is truly in love, they hang their hopes on the rumor.
Perhaps because we know why they were created and what their intended fate is, the characters seem remote, never actually engaging the audience. While the story is interesting, many viewers will be hard-pressed to care, particularly since the characters don’t seem all that concerned with their future. In one especially good scene, a young teacher tries to explain to her class that they won’t be growing up and going on to lives as bus conductors or movie stars. Soon after, she’s been dismissed.
The most refreshing aspect of Never Let Me Go is that it is not a futuristic tale—it is set in the not-too-distant past. Much of the story occurs in the 1980s, with a number of English boarding schools raising clones (according to the script, cloning had been perfected in 1952), and no one seems outraged that these living, sentient human beings are raised merely as a commodity, to be disposed of when they have served their purpose.Continued on the next page