Never Let Me Go: True Love and Kidneys

never-let-me-go-filmNever Let Me Go

Please do not read on.

Part of the joy of viewing the film Never Let Me Go, or engrossing yourself within the pages of Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed book on which it's based, is slowly perceiving the dystopian nature of the tale.

Since you have apparently ignored my warning, I'll proceed.

The story begins with the adult Kathy H. (Carey Mulligan) recalling her youth in a British boarding school, and her friendships with Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield). Flashback: The trio and their class peers appear seemingly healthy and chipper with no behavior that would cause much notice in any other school. And the curriculum doesn't seem like anything special. There's sports and there's art class and there are warnings against smoking. You must keep your inner bodies healthy, warns Miss Emily (Charlotte Rampling).

Hint! Hint! Hailsham, you see, is no ordinary school. Why?

(Please don't read on.)

Hailsham is home to clones who do not realize they are clones. These are children being farmed for their body parts. When they reach adulthood, they will forced to make "donations," and if they are "lucky," they will live on to at least their fourth surgery. The result: the median age of England is now 100. Bye-bye to deaths from cancer and diabetes and kidney failure.

Of course, to avoid feeling any guilt, society at large doesn't see these young clones as human. How could they be? They don't even have any souls.

But apparently they do, and they can love. Kathy loves Tommy, Tommy loves Kathy, but Ruth intervenes, and true romance is placed on hold until it may be too late. But will it be? And can true love right all wrongs?

A grand horror film without the pounding music and the dark rooms and the gore . . . a heartbreaking love story with unending subdued passions . . . Never Let Me Go, with thanks to director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) and screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later), is an adult entertainment that exudes sophistication and cleverness.

The tale is also a devastating critique of a society that preaches morality but only treads upon the righteousness path when doing so serves as no obstacle to its own pleasures and longevity.

So with a sterling cast, lovely yet astute cinematography by Adam Kimmel (Lars and the Real Girl), and a perfect score by Rachel Portman (Emma), Never Let Me Go must be hailed as one of the true pleasures of the year. - Brandon Judell


Mr. Judell is featured in the forthcoming documentary Activist: The Times of Vito Russo and has been edited out of Rosa von Praunheim's New York Memories. In the fall, he'll be teaching "American Jewish Theater" and "Theater into Film" at The City College of New York. He has written on film for The Village Voice,, The New York Daily News, and The Advocate, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi).

I have been waiting to read

I have been waiting to read your review because I wanted to see the film first, as you warned. Wonderfully written, a truly great movie as well. Thanks for the warning and the advice to see the movie. I almost cried...

Brandon Judell's review of Never Let Me Go

Great Review. I am glad I read all of it.

brandon judell's review of never let me go

thank you, brandon, for your review and praise of what sounds like a compelling film. when i saw the trailer. i didn't know what to make of it. after your review, it all makes sense. i am not a fan of ms knightly or ms. mulligan ( i wish hayley atwell & rebecca hall were the leads) but charlotte rampling and andrew garfield in supporting roles are a plus. i am looking forward to its release. thank you

Thank you

I modestly accept your compliment with great joy.

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