Never Let Me...Clone?

Posted by Jillian Theil September 16, 2010
Biopolitical Times

Never Let Me Go, directed by Mark Romanek and starring Carrie Mulligan, Keira Knightly, and Andrew Garfield, opened this week to widespread praise [1, 2, 3] and some reservations [1, 2] from movie critics.

 The film is based closely on the 2005 novel by award-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro about a world almost like our own. The story follows Kathy, Ruth and Tommy – played by Mulligan, Knightly and Garfield, respectively—who have grown up at the Hailsham boarding school in England. The students at the school are constantly reminded that they are special, and need to be careful of their health.

Not far into the story, the children learn that Hailsham is a school for clones – that they are clones created so that their body parts can be harvested. In the course of  their third “donation,” they can expect to die.

Kathy, Ruth and Tommy make it to their 18th birthdays, and are allowed to venture out into the real world. The film injects a strong dose of romance into the plot, as Ruth interrupts the budding love of Kathy and Tommy.

While the main focus of the story is the romance between Kathy and Tommy rather than their status as clones, it subtly explores the larger questions of humanity that are raised by reproductive human cloning and some of the other new biotechnologies. The Hollywood Reporter notes that  the audience "seemed to respond positively to the film's look at what makes us human and what defines a soul.”

Previously on Biopolitical Times:

• Cloning Keira Knightley
 ART and Art in the Movies 2010
• War Against the Weak – The Documentary 
• GATTACA Framing in the News