Letting Go

March 21, 2011 at 7:18 PM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment

Do human clones have souls? Can they even reproduce? I pondered about these after watching Never Let Me Go. The film adaption of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel takes the audience to a bleak world where human cloning is explored. While the story is not set in a futuristic setting, scientific breakthroughs in the real world (e.g., Dolly the cloned sheep, as well as the cloned cat and dog) makes this plot all the more plausible. What happens when humans are cloned and their vital organs harvested for treatment? The film explores this question in a sad narrative through the eyes of Cathy H., a human clone who grew up in a British boarding school with two of her friends, Ruth and Tommy. We follow their struggles through the years as they try to cope with the inevitable.

NeverLetMeGo poster

Several ethical questions are raised in this movie: Do humans have the right to clone people just so the sick can be cured? Why model the clones from the marginalized society (drug addicts, the homeless, etc.)? Are these originals and clones given the choice? Is it even acceptable to clone humans, allow them to cultivate their talents and skills, and form meaningful relationships then take their lives from them as soon as they are able to?

As much as I like the movie, there is one gaping loophole in the story. What I don’t understand is why did the clones readily accept their fate? They didn’t even try to fight the system or escape (unless that was a tracking device on their wrists). If Cathy, Ruth, and Tommy were that determined to live a normal life, then why not devise an escape plan? And even if they were being tracked, they could have at least tried something. “If there’s a will, there’s a way,” as the saying goes. There was nothing in the movie that suggested they were being contained or closely watched. It seemed like they had already let go of their will to survive – to experience the joys of living and loving.

I haven’t read the book yet so I don’t know how faithful the movie is to the story. But overall, I praise the movie not only for its riveting plot (however flawed) and the implicit performance delivered by Carey Mulligan but also for its different take on an age-old, sci-fi plot of cloning.

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