DVD | Movies

I Can Never Let It Go

I was going to write a review of the film Never Let Me Go, but the first half-hour of the film featured a scene that distracted me so badly that I’m going to mainly talk about that instead. There are some premise spoilers ahead, though nothing I hadn’t already heard before watching the film.

Never Let Me Go is science-fiction, but it’s “light” science-fiction, which means the science-fiction is really just the backdrop, rather than the center, of the film. The film wants to tell a story about people, and doesn’t try to or need to explain the sci-fi stuff. Unfortunately, I’m the type of person who really does need that stuff explained, as I’ll detail below.

In the film, we’re shown a boarding school filled with small children, and it’s pretty clear there’s something weird going on from the start. The kids believe that they can’t leave the school grounds or they’ll be murdered or starve to death. A truck arrives full of presents for them, presents that appear to be old, donated, broken toys. They use buttons for money, and they’re not taught useful skills but are mostly encouraged to paint. Some of the teachers appear to be creeped out by the kids, and one teacher has a breakdown and tells the kids they have no future. The deal is, these kids are clones, being raised so their organs can be harvested (see also The Island, and Clonus: The Horror).

(Actually, don’t see them, they’re terrible.)

A school for clones is a cool concept, and for a while, I’m happy with the movie. But then things start bothering me. In the film, when the clones reach a certain age, they’re allowed to go out into the world and have actual lives (at least until they are required to start donating their organs). There’s a scene where all the teenage clones are driving together in a car down a country road on their way to a restaurant . This scene takes place maybe thirty minutes into the movie, but the film may as well have ended there, because that’s when I hit a logic wall I couldn’t break through.

Seeing these clones drive along, a question popped up, and that question was: Wait, are you kidding me? This cloning company just let their clones wander off?

Look at it like this: I’ve paid a company millions of dollars to raise a clone-me so I can cut out his lungs for my own use when I get old, and this company (let’s call them CloneEx) just turns him loose? CloneEx lets my teenage clone drive around unsupervised in a car where he could have an accident and let my precious clone-organs get destroyed?

Other things happen in the film from that point, but I’m still stuck on the clones driving that car around, and how that could ever be allowed to happen. I can suspend disbelief for the main concept: that there are a bunch of clones being raised, but I can’t past the simple fact that these clones would be allowed to do whatever they want. Does CloneEx not know how terrible at driving teenage drivers are? Especially a teenage me? I was a terrible, reckless driver. What if clone-me crashes into a tree? Those eyes that get shredded when my clone goes flying through the windshield — those are my eyes. I am going to need them when I’m 95 and want to look at holographic space-pornography in my moon-condo.

Beyond the hazard of letting clone-me drive around, there’s the danger of letting clone-me do other things. What if my clone decides he doesn’t want to wait around for me to decide I need a new liver? What if he escapes, and commits crimes and leaves my fingerprints for the cops to find? What if he seduces my wife — after all, he’s younger and (comparatively) better looking than I am. What if he finds me and kills me and takes my place and inherits all of my millions of dollars I’m imagining myself to have?

And there’s no protestors at the school? No campaigns to release the clones, no liberal outrage at the poor clones being used as organ banks? None of this is addressed anywhere in the film. Like I said, NLMG doesn’t need to answer any of these questions, because the film isn’t meant to be a hard look at the science and politics and logic of cloning. It’s about, I don’t know, love or mortality or relationships or some shit.

But just I couldn’t enjoy the rest of it, because I couldn’t stop thinking about how CloneEx is the most irresponsible cloning company out there. I should have gone with InterClone Solutions, Ltd. Dammit. They really know how to protect my clone investment.


  1. TOTALLY agree. The film as a whole is enjoyable but for what appears to be an alternative history story (I’d never thought of it is sci-fi), the events are too unbelievable.
    Mostly my problem was why they at least didn’t try to leave/avoid the life set out for them by other means after they discovered that is was not possible through official channels or even before then.
    I mean you may be lacking in life skills and legality but surely getting by somehow is better than accepting a premature and likely agonizing death?
    Also Andrew Garfield’s character is a dick

  2. Jimothy says:

    The fact that they’re allowed to leave is a big point. I haven’t seen the film, but in the book, the clones, in a way, accept their fates. It’s used as a metaphor for how people in the real world go through their lives submitting to being treated like expendable, replaceable parts in society.

  3. Agreed on the leaving.

    I mean, they want to live, whole film is looking for an out, but nobody goes “Bugger all this for a game of soldiers” and drives for the border?

    People staged open rebellions in concentration camps. Give them the open road, and tell them they have a death sentence unless they run, you should expect running.

  4. Man, that was depressing.

    I watched it mainly to find out what the premise was, since I wasn’t sure how much of a spoiler that would be.

    It fails on almost every level. It’s only got the beginning of a concept, it plays out like the writer hasn’t thought it through for even a minute.

    We’re asked to believe that Donors have been so institutionalised to accept their fate that the world is 100% certain they will never attempt to avoid a slow painful death they know is coming, and yet the emotional crux of the film is Cathy and Tommy’s desperate attempts to escape it, and their sorrow and rage when they find they can’t. Except that they can.

    Even if the sci-fi stuff worked, it’s just a terrible character piece. We’re supposed to feel Tommy’s pain at having no time with Cathy after he spent six years fucking her friend in the next room, and nine years after they broke up making no attempt to find her. Boo fucking hoo. Solution: don’t be a useless cock in the first place.

    Beautifully shot though.

    • Tom, have I ever told you you’re awesome?

      …Yes, I have actually.

      Disregard that question, and replace it with one of the earlier positive statements about you.

  5. DirtyBlue929 says:

    This has nothing to do wth the subject at hand, but HOLY MOTHER OF DOG CHRIS IS ALIVE?!? AND HE DIDN’T TELL HIS HUNDREDS OF LOYAL FANS?!?

    Ah well, it’s a great comfort to know that he’s still kicking, at least! :D

  6. name name says:

    why have you stopped updating nondrick?

    • DirtyBlue929 says:

      Dude, f*** off. Just be glad to know he’s ALIVE. He’ll go back if he wants to, jesus.

  7. Reminds me of a book called ‘Spares’ by Michael Marshall Smith which has a much more realistic idea of how clones would be treated (ie locked in a darkened room and fed gruel by minimum wage carers). From there on out it just goes batshit insane, and dark, but mainly insane.
    Well worth a read then.

  8. FlyingSquirrel says:

    Hooray I found Chris Livingston again! Shame on you for sneaking away for a year ;D. And thank you Mr. Tom Francis for linking me back to him. Looking forward to more fun reviews and shenanigans Chris! :) Oh, and haven’t seen this one, but sounds like a miss to me.

  9. BigTomHatfield says:

    I have the same problem with this I have with the Island, it all starts from the nonsense scare story view of cloning that assumes that full grown humans will be grown but not have full human rights. The idea of cloning the required parts, or the concept that clones would obviously have a right to life (as is the case with the clones we currently have, also known as twins) is completely ignored.

    You’re starting from a stupid place to begin with, and it’s only going to be downhill from there.