On Saturday night I saw the movie, Never Let Me Go. Adapted from the Kazuo Ishiguro novel of the same name, the film opens in an alternative version of the 1970s and then jumps ahead to the 1990s as the main characters grow into adulthood. The initial setting is an idyllic, but mysterious, boarding school in the English countryside. In this revised version of our recent past, medical science has made great advances. People now live to be well over one hundred.
During a shocking and moving scene, some of the children find out that they exist simply to be living donors of vital organs and other body parts. Consequently, they learn they will begin their mission when they are young adults, donating three times or more. If, that is, they survive the surgeries before they succumb to premature death. In other words, these children are clones, or “modeled” as the movie calls it. They have no parents and will never know life outside of the institution that houses them.
A birthmother’s perspective
My head exploded.
Children exploited for the purposes of adults who need something they don’t have, I thought. Children who don’t have a say in their own fate. Children wondering about the person they were “modeled on.” What does that sound like to you?
Later, in one particularly moving scene, the 20-something protagonist pages through a stack of magazines, looking for the woman who is her model. The protagonist has accompanied a friend on a mission into town to view a woman who might be her friend’s model. Don’t you know they don’t model us on people like that? the friend cries when she see’s the photo in the magazine. If we want to find the person we are modeled on, we have to look in the gutter. Winos, prostitutes, addicts–the dregs of society. Those are the people they use for models.
An adoptee’s worst fears, I thought. A birthmother from the dregs of society.
The movie does not disclose what happens to the modelers. Whether they are destroyed in the cloning process or not. They are societies’ throwaways.
In the movie, there’s a serpentine cloning bureaucracy, threaded with myths and lies. No one can find the information they’re looking for. Because there is no viable information. In other words, searching leads nowhere.
Searching leads nowhere. Like adoption and closed records.
The movie was excellent and thought-provoking in many ways.
However, I brought my own experience to it and saw it from a point of view that the author and the filmmaker most likely did not intend. Whether or not you share the perspective of someone involved in adoption, I highly recommend Never Let Me Go.