The movie Never Let Me Go is a dystopian drama based on Kazuo Ishaiguro’s 2005 novel of the same name. The film stars actors Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield playing the roles of Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, respectively.
On the surface the movie appears at first to be the story of a boarding school young love triangle between Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. As the film progresses, the viewer learns that all three characters are scientific specimens that have been created for the sole purpose of providing their organs to severely ill patients. The children are “born” and raised at a school named Hailsham. The students are called Donors and Carers. Technically all are Donors but until you are indeed donating you are caring for the Donors while they recover from their surgeries. You remain a Carer until you become a donor.
Ruth, the role played by Kiera Knightly, is consumed during the movie with finding her “double”. It is never stated yet can be easily assumed that her double is the person whom she was cloned after, the original owner of the DNA pumping through her Donor veins. Since the children of Hailsham are created in a laboratory and raised in the school, they technically have no parents yet they are somehow aware they come from somewhere. There is a touching scene where Kiera goes into town due to a reported sighting of her double. She is anxious and giddy and short of breath at the idea of seeing her double. She does not seem to be seeking the other version of herself but rather where she came from, a parent or family of origin. Disappointingly, she does not find her double rather she finds out she has been mislead.
I felt empathy for these characters. They were people, they loved, and they cried, they fought, and they deceived. They possessed, as we learn late in the movie, a soul, which we also learn is the criteria for being viewed as human (yet somehow, oddly, not guaranteed all the rights associated with non donor humans… sound familiar?).
The film critic Roger Ebert says in his review of the movie “Greater love hath no man, than he who gives me his kidney, especially his second one”. I wonder what he would say about a woman (Donor) that gives her child, especially her only one, to another woman dying for a child she cannot have on her own.
While I found a great deal of the film to parallel adoption, nothing touched me more than the title – Never Let Me Go. The title, along with the plot line, reminded me that I, and so many other mothers like me, should never have let go of our children. We should never have allowed them to be Donor children for those that could not conceive their own. We should have been their Carers.