Sunday, 6 February 2011

Ten Films 2010: Never Let Me Go

First and foremost, Alex Garland and Mark Romanek's film captures the overwhelming sense of otherness that dominated Kazuo Ishiguro's book. Never Let Me Go features a group of people with preascribed cancellation orders. They aren't to live and dream, instead they have placeholder lives that rattle along in a directionless funk whilst their organs mature, ready for harvest. This deadline, and the total anonymity of their upbringing have apparently created a noticeably different state of human being. The clones raised at Hailsham pride themselves on a kind of emotional neutrality, their only sanctioned expression through competitive art. As they go out into the world, they are compliant, and often complicit, in their dilemma. Escape, apparently never considered.

The horror of this situation is that this isn't necessarily their natural state. They have been taught to act this way. The world views them as alien, so that is how they act. They aren't even considered human by those most sympathetic to their plight. They are conditioned from birth to be other. Romanek's mise en scene toys lightly with this inhumanity; Never Let Me Go's world is one of seaside resorts and provincial motoring, all frozen in a mid-twentieth century malaise. The organ trade doesn't feed into some horrific off-screen future war, instead, it quietly and discreetly extends the lives of self-designated superiors at the expense of an underclass of children.

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