Never Let Me Go

13 Apr


Monday and Tuesday were such bears of days that Tuesday evening I decided I needed a break so I found a RedBox and checked out Never Let Me Go on a whim.

I was vaguely aware that the movie existed (I think I saw a trailer for it and had liked the trailer) but other than that was a blank slate. Quite simply, Never Let Me Go proved that painful, evil things can still be beautiful. Or rather, that beautiful things can still exist amid insidious evil.

The story centers on the recent past in which a breakthrough medical discovery has significantly increased the life expectancy of most people. However, we quickly find out that this longevity has been bought through the creation of “donors.” The donors are people born and raised to young adulthood for the sole purpose of harvesting their organs for transplants. Each donor may be able to donate two or three organs before dying in their twenties.

The film follows the lives of three donors who grow up attending a boarding school for donor children. Here they are educated while being kept in pristine physical condition. The film follows their story as they mature, the ensuing complex love triangle and as they eventually move out of the school to begin their donations.

Watching how their mostly normal boarding-school childhoods increasingly confront the evil (is there a better word?) of what was to happen to them was particularly jarring.

The old school house, the English countryside and children themselves are all so beautiful. Yet, beneath the facade of beauty and goodness, lies something truly terrible. As if to acknowledge this, the colors of the film are muted, the green of the countryside turns a bluish-tint under overcast skies. The whole film feel cool to the touch.

And it is painful to watch the characters strain to develop the characteristics of a normal life – with passions and interests and loves – knowing that it will all be snuffed out so soon.

Yet the evil of it all that had me wanting to scream at the screen during various scenes was only nominally felt by the adults in charge and by the non-donors. It was an abstraction to them. Indeed, the teachers question whether the donors even have souls. The donors have been other-ized. Made to be less than human.

We may not harvest people for organs, but the film made me ask where we’ve done the same thing.

Never Let Me Go is the kind of film that haunts you long after the credits roll.




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