Never Let Me Go (Contains Spoilers)

Perhaps to some, the idea of releasing a soppy emotional drama around the time of Valentine’s Day seems a bit clichéd by today’s standards. If anything, it would probably make more sense to release something entirely different without the hassle of being an emotional wreck as the credits roll (so yes, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, I’m thanking you for Paul ahead of time!). But I think the release of Never Let Me Go around this date is more coincidental, considering there are Oscar Nominations involved.

Never Let Me Go, in a nutshell, is about an alternate version of England which, in 1952, experienced a massive medical leap forward and managed to perfect Human Cloning and allow humans to live way past 100. By the 1970’s, human clones are raised in boarding schools until they start donating their organs in their 20’s/30’s, and keep donating until they “complete” their use and die. Ethically questionable stuff, yes? Except, Never Let Me Go hardly touches on the ethical basis of the story very much, but actually focuses on the love triangle between three clones who live out their life together: Kathy H (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley).

At first, I figured Never Let Me Go had a lot of promise to deal with two different, intertwining subjects at once – that of human cloning and its ethics and the relationships between the three characters. Unfortunately, it must be said that these hopes were dropped when I realised the cloning aspect of it was actually being used as an undercurrent to these characters lives, and why their time together is so short. The cloning is dealt with in very blunt ways (i.e. the text exposition at the start, and their school teacher getting emotional and explaining their cloning very bluntly) and doesn’t get brought to the foreground much, but instead explains the naivety of the clones and why they go through the motions of life, never really aspiring to more than they are. Perhaps the source material by Kazuo Ishiguro deals with it differently, but the film seemed to drag for the most part.

The majority of Never Let Me Go is pretty slow, starting off with the characters’ lives at school and how their love triangle starts. Credit to the kids, they’re brilliant actors and made this part of the film a bit easier to sit through. Keira Knightley didn’t manage to make me change my opinion of her being a loud-mouthed stick insect too much either, but she does redeem her character when she admits to keeping Kathy and Tommy away from each other despite how much they obviously love each other, and that made her character more interesting for me. Carey Mulligan was good as her character, but it just seemed that all the characters lacked depth. But that might be intentional, considering they’re clones!

Never Let Me Go really only gets going about 30 minutes from the end, when some answers start coming to light. But by this point, the questions being answered don’t really matter much anymore, and you really just want to know what’s going to happen to the characters even though it’s been made obvious that all clones die by age 30. The real message of the film comes in Kathy’s very last line where she relates human life to a clone’s life being the same in the end, and you feel like this could have been something dealt with throughout the whole film.

Essentially, Alex Garland knows how to write a good script as the dialogue was very good, but overall the story could have progressed a lot quicker than it did and became more about emotional relationships than dealing with life. I give Never Let Me Go 5 out of 10, but mostly for the compelling last part of the film.



  1. That is the film I saw on the plane on the way to England. I still don’t understand why they didn’t just run away. Do you think they were so brain washed that they would give up their lives before their happiness? They had access to cars and were able to go places, so escaping would be easy. I didn’t care for Kiera’s character at all, I didn’t like her for stealing Tommy from Kathy. The movie was good but had no advertising in the US, I never even knew about the film until i was on the plane and thought, this sounds interesting.

    • Oh, right! I knew you were trying to describe it, but it wasnt out here yet! Well, it’s probably explained more in the book, but I think that their existence is no secret, and the fact they all wear wristbands shows they’re clones. It’s not that they’re brainwashed, its more that they’re raised with the knowledge that this is what they are, and its questioned whether they even have souls. Keira Knightley tends to annoy me a lot of the time, and this did nothing to change that because she’s still basically her usual character. It’s up for Oscars, so maybe people will start paying attention to it now?

      • I have a challenge for you as a writer, if you dare to step up to it. I challenge you to go see Never say never and review it. As a writer you won’t always be choosing what you get to review, and you won’t always like it. My dad went with my mom to see it so I know you will survive. 🙂

      • Ok, how about…… NO! Because, quite frankly, I don’t think any film reviewer would pay to see it in order to review it, and I dont think any boss would be that cruel! Don’t get me wrong, I understand I won’t always get to choose what films I review, and thats fine. But I really dont like Justin Beiber.

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