Right. I didn’t expect to react in that way… (CONTAINS SPOILERS. A LOT OF SPOILERS)
I returned from a very enjoyable shopping trip because as well as buying a book that I’ve never heard of, I also brought a copy of the 2010 movie, Never Let Me Go.
I read the book shortly before I started this blog and now I can see that it was good groundwork, paving the way for a good film. In the film, we are introduced to Kathy H, who cares for the patients donating their organs. Through a voice-over and flashbacks, we are introduced to a young Kathy H and two other children at the school: Tommy and Ruth.
The children are warned by the head-teacher, Miss. Emily, not to smoke because it is vital that they stay healthy. The students are forbidden from leaving the school’s boundaries. For example, when Tommy accidentally throws a cricket ball over the fence he is forbidden from going to retrieve it. The children scare each other with horror stories of what happened to people who disobeyed and went against the rule.
The children do artwork which can be selected for ‘The Gallery’. Tommy also completes artwork but is taunted by the other children. A woman known as Madam comes and selects work for her gallery, and students are keen to get their work selected.
The pupils collect tokens and buy every day items in a ‘Sale’ and there is much excitement although Kathy is not so keen. Tommy buys her a music tape and she listens to it constantly. One of the guardians, Miss. Lucy, then tells the children that they exist as organ donors. They will live a pre-determined life which ends when they can’t donate any more. Miss. Lucy then leaves. I assumed that she must’ve been quietly gotten rid of because if she knew of the school’s intentions then she could be a dangerous enemy to them.
When Kathy sees that Ruth and Tommy are together even though Ruth taunted him, she reflects that maybe she should have been horrible to him as well.
At the age of 18, the donors are moved to cottages, where they are given the option to care for the organ donors but they also live with people from other Homes as well. They still don’t live in the outside world, and learn about the world through watching comedy programmes on television and copying the actions from that. Some of the couples (Ruth and Tommy, for example) begin sexual relationships.
Tommy, Ruth and Kathy eat at a cafe and are unable to react to normal situations outside of the confines of Haversham. They copy the behaviours of their more learned friends, Rod and Chrissie who are more experienced of the outside world. The group talk more about the rumours of a deferral which you could receive if a boy and girl could prove that they were in love.
Rod and Chrissie believed that they found Ruth’s ‘original’ (that is, the person she was cloned from) working in an office building. When there is actually no resemblance, Ruth is angry and distraught. She angrily tells the pair that every one of them in ‘modelled on trash’ (the lowest of the low in the world: criminals, prostitutes, etc.). The ramifications of that are just too mind-blowing to comprehend.
Everyone is keen to get to the bottom of what ‘The Gallery’ was all about. Tommy becomes fanatic about the referral possibility. Kathy applies to be a carer to the organ donors and the lives of the trio unravel and Kathy doesn’t see either Ruth or Tommy for over ten years. While caring for them, she reflects that some of the donors die early after only donating once or twice.
Kathy and Ruth see each other again following the death of Kathy’s latest organ donor patient in surgery. Ruth tells Kathy that she and Tommy are each on their second donation, and Ruth reflects on those who donate more and more and have to be switched off in the end.
Ruth decides that they should take a trip to visit Tommy and go to the beach. They see Tommy, who tells them that Hailsham had since closed. They go to the beach, and talk about people who have ‘completed’ or died.
Ruth later asks Kathy for forgiveness and apologizes for keeping Kathy and Tommy apart. She reveals that she was jealous, and didn’t want to be alone. She tells them to get a deferral despite Kathy’s insistence that it’s too late.
Tommy completed a lot of art work to show Madam. Kathy tells Ruth that they are applying for a deferral and Ruth later dies during her operation. Tommy and Kathy decide to track Madam down so they can prove to her that they are in love and entitled to a deferral.
They track Madam down and tell her that they have solved the meaning of the Gallery. Miss. Emily (played by the fantastic Charlotte Rampling.) tells Tommy and Kathy that there are no referrals. No such things exist. And the meaning of the gallery was not to look into the souls of the pupils. Rather, it was to show that the children had souls in the first place.
And then we return to the scene at the start of the movie. Tommy is donating for the last time. As she watches him through the window, he doesn’t take his eyes off her until he has to go under anaesthetic. Kathy reflects that she too will soon have to donate in a matter of weeks.
She imagines seeing Tommy again, and realizes that she was lucky for the time she had with him in the first place.
At this point, I was crying buckets and the window cleaner was probably looking at me weirdly. I didn’t expect it to be so moving (the film. Not the window-cleaner). I have a great respect for this film, and Andrew Garfield played the role of Tommy perfectly. Carey Mulligan in the role of Kathy was exemplary, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else apart from Keira Knightley playing the role of Ruth. The voiceover from Kathy which accompanied it didn’t oversentamentalize it. It added to it, and the music was lovely, adding nuances to the scenes which had no dialogue.
Thank you for reading this summary. 😄