Self delusion is one thing. A deluded society is another. Soldiers in campaigns such as the First World War, Vietnam or Iraq, to name a few, have eventually discovered that their fate was based on a lie or an economy of the truth. For some it’s enough to send them off the rails; a few are left to struggle with an irreconcilable dichotomy of conscience; some become like empty shells whilst others choose the easiest option and deny there is anything wrong at all. We live in a world today that is as rife as ever with manipulation and control. Our politics, philosophy and faith take a daily battering until we are convinced that if our opinions survive the storm they must be substantial. When all we’ve really done is cut off the untidy ends to make sure we don’t stand out so much.
“Never Let Me Go” based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, introduces us to a world where children are bred to become organ donors. They live an isolated childhood rather reminiscent of a boarding school (whose motto should have been “Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori”) with no mention of parents having ever existed. They are aware, albeit in an anodyne nay romantic manner that they are required to donate and eventually “complete” (they are striped of organs until they die). And yet they are fine with this as they’ve been brainwashed throughout their lives to believe that they are somehow fulfilling a destiny. Indeed the whole of society is happy to turn a blind eye because the system conveniently saves them from diseases like lung cancer etc… And because society has made the progress and enjoyed its benefits then, regardless of ethics, regression is out of the question (rather like, say, our dependancy on oil or sweatshop labour! Yeah.. topical!)
Yes, this film is packed with themes and metaphors for the coming of age, disillusion with the world around, sexual awakening, totalitarianism, medical ethics, life’s crossroads, class, brain-washing etc… And then, like 1984, it throws raw human emotion into the equation – that despite being told who we are and where we fit in, there’s that often supressed strain of independent feeling, usually, and in this case, falling in love with someone, that neither we nor society can control. It is this liberation that goads our senses to discover who we truly are. Sadly, it is finding out who we truly are and discovering our place in society that allows us to fit in.
Unlike other reviews, I’ve not really mentioned much about the film per se, rather how it left me feeling and thinking at the end – a sign of a good production. Top marks therefore to director Mark Romanek, screenwriter Alex Garland and the three leading actors and their child selves. Also Adam Kimmel for what should be award winning cinematography.
[rating=5] Buy Never Let Me Go (2010) [DVD]