Never Let Me Go: Movie Review Plus My Personal Analysis and Reflection (Spoiler Alert)

So last weekend, I was on an out of town trip with office mates.  And while they were on a drinking spree, I decided to watch a movie called "Never Let Me Go", a movie I happen to have stumbled upon as a recommend film by fellow movie lovers.

Never Let Me Go (2010) is a movie adaptation of a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro of the same name.  The movie is 103 minutes long.  The cast really did well in acting.    The movie is centered on three main casts: Kathy H (played by Izzy Meikle-Small and Carey Mulligan), along with her friends Tommy (played by Charlie Rowe and Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (played by Ella Purnell and Keira Knightley).  

The entire movie is based on the narration of Kathy when she is already 28 years old as she reminisces about her childhood.  The story begins when she was 7 years old and at a boarding school called Hailsham in the 1970's and stretches out until the present when the beginning and ending scene will collide.

The movie is a mix genre: romance, drama and sci-fi.  The sci-fi part comes of as something that is mysterious and slowly unfolding throughout the movie.   As the beginning narration begins with Kathy stating: 
"My name is Kathy H.  I'm 28 years old.  I've been a carer for 9 years. And I'm good at my job.  My patients always do better than expected and are hardly ever classified as agitated, even if they're about to make a donation.  I'm not trying to boast, but I feel a great sense of pride in what we do.  Carers and donors have achieved so much. That said, we aren't machines.  In the end, it wears you down.  I suppose that's why I now spend most of my time not looking forwards but looking back, to The Cottages and Hailsham, and what happened to us there."

To fully appreciate the plot, you have to play within its context.  And that is they as clones classified as carers and donors, fully accept their fate from the moment they were created.  Also it didn't make sense why they didn't chose to be a carer so they can extend their lives a bit because they are given the task to care for other donors before they begin donating.  But, let's skip pass that as the movie is about how they cope with their given circumstances.

Although it is fictional, it's very much relatable which makes it a really good movie.  The movie itself is sufficient to disclose a lot of deep points which Kazuo Ishiguro wants to present to the readers.  But, it made me uncontented so I just had to read the book after watching it.  They were points revealed on the 300-page novel which was not encompassed in the movie probably due to lack of time.  In terms of production, I'd say they really did well with their $ 15 million budget.  I even feel bad that this movie only achieved a $ 9.4 million box office hit as I believe it deserves much more than that.

My Personal Analysis and Reflection 
The movie and novel really has a lot to uncover so dwell with me as I try to release my thoughts on the issues that I've unveiled.

After playing the cassette tape of Judy Bridgewater called Songs After Dark with the song “Never Let Me Go", Ms. Lucy (their guardian) reveal to them their purpose in a very sentimental and emotional way: Ms. Lucy: "The problem is you've been told and not told. That's what I've seen while I've been here. You've been told but none of you really understand. So I've decided I'll talk to you in a way that you will understand. Do you know what happens to children when they grow up? No, you don't, because nobody knows. They might grow up to become actors, move to America. Or they might work in supermarkets. Or teach in schools. They might become sportsmen or bus conductors or racing car drivers. They might do almost anything. But with you we do know. None of you will go to America. None of you will work in supermarkets. None of you will do anything except live the life that has already been set out for you. You will become adults, but only briefly. Before you are old, before you are even middle-aged, you will start to donate your vital organs. That's what you were created to do. And sometime around your third or fourth donation, your short life will be complete. You have to know who you are and what you are. It's the only way you'll lead decent lives."
The song is about a woman’s love for her baby.  It is also the title of the movie and the novel which I have yet to understand why.
~ These 3 characters knew from age 7 how limited their time was.  And, yet they end up spending it in a regretful way.  It is no different from how some of us deal with our lives too (not just relationships).  Sure, we may have longer lives but still it is limited and beyond our controllable when it ends.  But, do we really go after what we desire the most so that we can say that we have lived our lives without regrets? 

As Kathy states in the ending "I come here and imagine that this is the spot where everything I've lost since my childhood has washed up. I tell myself if that were true, and I waited long enough, then a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field and gradually get larger until I'd see it was Tommy. He'd wave and maybe call. I don't let the fantasy go beyond that. I can't let it. I remind myself I was lucky to have had any time with him at all. 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. When we are scattered afar and asunder. Parted are those who are singing today When we look back and forgetfully wonder What we were like in our learning and play Oh, the great days will bring distance enchanted Days of fresh air in the rain and the sun How we rejoiced as we struggled and panted Echoes of dreamland, Hailsham lives on."
~ No matter how bad the circumstance we encounter, we can always make ourselves believe that we are lucky and that we should feel contented.  We have no choice but to believe that to be so.  We can relieve moments from our memories and satisfy ourselves with that.  Or, we can make ourselves endlessly hope so we have something to look forward to.  Everything can be as we want to believe... there is no right or long as we can move along in our lives.

Feelings and Relationship
When they were 7, Tommy was teased because he had an uncontrollable tantrum, Kathy always tried to reach out to him.  In the movie Tommy's feeling were subtly showed by the way they looked at each other, Tommy's words: "I mean, I wouldn't want to hit any girl. But particularly not you." and his gesture when he gave her a cassette tape of Judy Bridgewater called Songs After Dark with the song “Never Let Me Go". 
~ In this part it is quite clear to us audience that Tommy and Kathy had feelings for each other and somehow led us to expect or wish that it would somehow become fruitful for the two. 

But because of Ruth was more outspoken than Kathy who was reserved and pragmatic, at the age of 15 Tommy and Ruth became a couple.  It was quite clear from Kathy's narration that Ruth chose Tommy (something Kathy could never do even if she wanted to).
Kathy: "I didn't understand why, after all her teasing, Ruth would decide that Tommy was the boy she liked most of all. They say girls are always mean to the boys they like. So maybe Ruth had liked him all along. Maybe I should have teased him, too. I kept hoping they would separate, like the other childhood and teenage romances at the school. They never did."
~ In this part, I was a bit disappointed when Ruth and Tommy ended up together.  But, I thought it was realistic.  I've seen this happen a lot in my surrounding especially with girls.  In our culture where girls are courted by guys, I think girls are placed on the same circumstance as Kathy.  It doesn't matter if she has feelings for some guy.  All she ever has to consider is the guy who chooses to be with her and the aging even limits the time for considering.  As for guys, being prideful creatures, some are also afraid of rejection.  They'd rather choose the one that flirts with them rather than risk with those who they think are difficult for them to woo or those who are difficult for them to support, take care of and satisfy.  And, they also consider those that fit the norms based on looks and shape perhaps rather than going for those which would have been more compatible with them.

When they are 18, they are moved to "The Cottages", where it is depicted to show that Ruth and Tommy are in a sexual but loveless relationship.

Kathy was obviously affected but she dealt with it by applying to be a carer and leave the place.  She chose to avoid and run away from it and never thought of encountering the two again.  But at the age of around 27 when she accidentally saw Ruth at the hospital, she couldn't have but opt to be the carer for her childhood friend.

On the other hand, Ruth had a different way of handling the situation which is revealed when Kathy found her after her second donation and she was about to die that she confessed to both Kathy and Tommy.
Ruth: "I'd like you to forgive me. I don't expect you to. Forgive you for what? For keeping you and Tommy apart. Should have been you two together, I always knew it. As far back as I can remember.
It wasn't just because of the rumors about deferrals. It was because I was jealous. You had real love
and I didn't, and I didn't want to be the one that was left alone.  It's the worst thing I ever did.  And now I want to put it right. xxx I can if you two get a deferral. xxx It wasn't easy, but I've had years to think about what I did. And years to try and work out a way to make it right.

Tommy was always a passive character.  He never showed his feelings for Kathy until Ruth allowed him to which is probably why he believed that there was a deferral and he could request more time with Kathy who he truly loves.  He always knew he truly loved Kathy which is why he knew he couldn't try the deferral with Ruth but he went on a loveless sexual relationship with her anyway.  As expected, Tommy was the one with the biggest tantrum and regret when they found out that there was really no such thing as a deferral until the momeent he died.
~ These showed different ways on how we handle our feelings, the choices we make and the consequences that follows it.  It's very relatable in our lives today as shown by scientific studies on unhappy marriages, criminal cases filed for rape, adultery and concubinage (and other forms of unfaithfulness revealed on surveys that aren't filed and often condoned), divorce and annulment rates, children born out of wedlock and more.  

Tommy's interpretation of  "The Gallery" is also an interesting aspect. It was also a medium for him to express his true feelings.
Tommy: "Suppose for a second that the rumor is true. That there is a special arrangement for Hailsham students, if they're in love. Well, there would have to be some kind of way to decide if couples are telling the truth and not just lying to put off their donations. That's what The Gallery could be for. In The Gallery they have everything about us they need to know.  So if we say that we're in love, they can look into our souls and they can see. They'll know if it's real love or if it's just a lie."

While at Hailsham, Tommy never drew.  But, he started drawing after finding out about the deferrals.  During this time, he was with Ruth and yet he was creating arts hoping he'd be deferred with Kathy.
Tommy: "I started doing them when we were at The I realized that if I was ever going to apply for a deferral, then I'd have to show them something. And I've done hundreds of them over the I have never showed anyone them until now. They were my secret."

Tommy's desire of course was only exposed near the end when he and Kathy tried to apply for the deferrals.
Tommy: "So... We're in love. And it's true love. It's verifiable. xxxWell, we'd heard about the deferrals. And we'd worked out the purpose of The Gallery. xxx To use our art from Hailsham to look into our souls, which would verify that we deserved a deferral. But the problem is I was a little bit mixed up back then and I didn't really do any art, so you never took anything of mine. I know, I know that that is my fault and it is probably much too late, but I brought some stuff with me today. This is a book of stuff and... Other stuff here. Some of them I've done quite recently, and others were done several years ago, so there's a real spread."

~ These parts of the plot is what made it quite emotional and sad.  I felt sorry for Tommy not because he was a clone, not because he had little time but because he didn't have the courage to go for what he truly felt until it was too late.

~ Ruth's confession and Tommy's theory also differentiates true love (it's mysterious aspect) and a lie.  What Kathy and Tommy felt for each other was true.  And, we don't know the reason why.  It just happened that way.  It also showed the other reasons to enter into a relationship other that true love.  Ruth chose Tommy out of desperation because she didn't want to be the one left alone.  I think she chose Tommy because she was able to dominate him.  And Tommy who was passive, allowed himself to be dominated by Ruth although he always knew it was a lie and it was never explained why. Hope
Kathy knew the rumor of the deferral is false but she supported Tommy's decision to apply anyway.  No matter how stupid the idea was Tommy made himself believe in his theory just so he can spend more time with Kathy after he wasted all his chances of doing so in the past.
~ It is very human to grope on anything that can give us hope.  We believe in religion for a chance that they can be forgiven and given another chance after-life.  We believe in superstition for a chance to have additional luck and other benefits.  As someone once told me, if you could bet on two sides: win or lose, of course you'd bet on the possibility that you could win.  Besides if you believe, you have nothing to lose.  Many who are dying (some due to unlucky circumstances and most due to the consequence of failing to take care of their bodies) are going for any kind of treatment that could extend their lives... no matter how small the chances are, ridiculous it would sound or even if they are unverified (no therapeutic claims familiar?).

All of them are interested in finding out who their originals or possibles are despite already knowing their purpose for their creation.  
~ It is a human instinct to know our origin.  In the same way, adopted children still want to know their birth parents regardless of their state of well-being.  So I think what it is trying to relay to us is that we are made to reflect on our past and not just to look forward.

Cloning and Souls
Madame: "We didn't have The Gallery in order to look into your souls. We had The Gallery
to see if you had souls at all."

~ Up until recently, I had a very narrow view on cloning.  I thought that if we cloned, we will be playing God as we are able to create souls.  But, someone pointed it out to me that we are already creating souls when me copulate.  Thus, cloning of a human being with a soul will only be a different way of creating.  I have to agree. I think if we do clone, it will have a soul different from its original unless we only clone a body part, say a live tissue or cell of some sort, which of course would be incapable of living a life on its on.