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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Never Let Me Go': An Exquisite Dystopian Depiction of the Tragedy of the Human Condition

Movie poster for the film Never Let Me Go starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley

“Never Let Me Go” (2013) is an exquisite dystopian drama from the United Kingdom, set within an alternate reality where a scientific breakthrough has enabled humans to live in excess of 100 years, yet require carefully bred clones to supply them with the vital organs they need to survive into their elder years.

The story is set largely within Hailsham, a preparatory boarding school in rural England where future donors are raised as orphans, ostensibly unaware of their long-term purpose to the world-at-large. Kathy H, Tommy and Ruth are close childhood friends at Hailsham, where they share in adolescent amusements even as strong emotional bonds develop between Kathy (Carey Mulligan) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield). However it is Ruth (Keira Knightley) who ultimately seduces Tommy, stealing him away and forging a love triangle that bears the emotional core of the storyline, as their passions and fears lay the groundwork for a stirring tale of emboldened hopefulness and bittersweet mortality.

Adapted by Alex Garland (“Ex Machina”) from the celebrated novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (“The Remains of the Day”) and directed by music video virtuoso Mark Romanek (“One Hour Photo”), “Never Let Me Go” is an elegant and impeccable creation, delivering an intoxicating fusion of prestigious melodrama and inspired fantasy. Temperate, appealing and strikingly poignant, it’s a world class tale of existential discovery and a deeply moving treatise on the tragedy of the human condition.


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