Last week I was flipping through the channel and landed on the film Never Let Me Go on HBO. I’d seen it before when it was released in theaters back in 2010 and thought it was such a beautifully sad and touching film. Of course, the longer I remained on the channel, the more I was sucked into watching it again. The story is such a brilliant one, I wish I would have read the book first, and based on the caliber of the movie, I’m sure it would of made my list of my favorite books to film adaptations.
Based on the critically acclaimed book (one of books of Time’s Best 100 Books of All Time) by Kazuo Ishiguro, the story centers on an alternate timeline where humans are able to live well beyond the current lifespan. This is possible through the use of clones who donate their vital organs to those they are modeled on. And in this world, special boarding schools care for these clones until their reach adulthood and the donation process begins. Through this narrative, we meet Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield), and Ruth (Keira Knightly) as children and follow them as that get older and move closer to their ultimate fate of “completion” (It’s not even called dying, as if this is too human of a word). As we do so, we as the audience are left to wonder exactly what gives those the right to play god and just what makes us human. Is it friendship? Jealousy? Curiosity? Compassion? Duty? Love? Within the relationship of these three and how they interact with the world, there are all of these emotions and societal forces. They created a community with each other and others like them; they formed relationships, manipulated them, cared for others, enjoyed the beauty of life, longed for redemption, and were moved by grief. In the end, however, it isn’t enough to prove just how human they were.
The irony of this is heavily apparently in the last words of the film, spoken by Kathy:
“…What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”
I have never wanted to read a book after seeing the movie but I may have to in this case. Watch the trailer below if you’re not familiar with the movie.
Have you seen this film? Read the book? What are you thoughts on how this story speaks to humanity?