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Never Let Me Go [2010] [R] - 8.6.3



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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Based on the Kazuo Ishiguro novel, alternate reality film about a medically advanced Britain in 1994: A woman (Carey Mulligan) recalls her childhood in an isolated boarding school with friends, growing up without parents, among an erratic boy (Andrew Garfield) and a manipulative girl (Keira Knightley). Upon leaving school, she learns that they live in a world where human clones provide donor organs, one by one, until they "complete" -- a euphemism for death. Also with Sally Hawkins, Charlotte Rampling and Natalie Richard. Directed by Mark Romanek. [1:43]

SEX/NUDITY 8 - A man and a woman, nude from waist up, lie in bed having sex, apparently against the man's will: she sits on top of him and thrusts wildly and gasps and screams, while he grimaces and looks away with closed eyes and arms outstretched to the sides (we see his bare chest, arms, and shoulders and only her bare back and face).
 A woman passes a bedroom door where we see a man and another woman nude from shoulders up, lying in bed having sex: we see thrusting and hear the woman gasping loudly. A woman sits on a man's hospital bed and kisses him; she removes her blouse so that we see her slip and bare shoulders and arms, gets into bed and kisses him (sex is implied).
 A boy and a girl hold hands and she later kisses him briefly; another girl sees them and becomes tearful each time, and we hear that she loves the boy.
 A woman wearing a thin dressing gown (we can see her hips and a shoulder) enters another woman's room, sits on her bed, leans into her face, says that the second woman must be jealous of the sex sounds coming from another room, grabs her by the neck and kisses her violently on the lips.
 A teen girl looks through a pornographic magazine and we see a dozen close-up photos of women with large breasts and nipples; one photo shows bare buttocks, and thighs through sheer stockings while the woman is reclining with a large fan covering her crotch. In a flashback, a woman looks through a glass into a hospital operatory prep room at a man nude from the waist-up on a gurney (we see half of his bare chest. A shirtless man sits at a drawing board.
 A teen boy talks to a teen girl who is looking at a porn magazine, saying, "It's just 'sex-stuff.' You have to look at each photo carefully or nothing happens," and she replies that she's not interested. A TV show features guests talking about kissing and rumors of actors' relationships. Two girls speak about a boy and one says, "He's not my type," to which the second replies that the first will likely always be single and jealous. A girl listens to a tape of love songs often, in childhood and as an adult, and we hear the words "never let me go" and "love me" several times. People discuss whether they can have a deferment of organ donation if they can prove they are in love. A woman tells another woman and a man that she interfered with their relationship by forcing herself on the man in school when they were teens, because she was jealous.
 Couples live together and share a bedroom, but are not permitted to marry.

VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - A woman lies under a sheet on a gurney, her open eyes staring blankly, an anesthetic tube in her mouth, and a heart monitor attached under a sheet; two physicians cut out her liver in a fuzzy scene, a technician drops the liver into a large plastic zip-lock bag while a large pool of blood forms at the unstitched incision, the monitor flatlines, a technician removes the anesthetic tube, and the staff walks away.
 A man receives an injection in a medical inlet in his hand and falls asleep; a technician roughly yanks his head up, puts an oxygen mask on, and drops his head, while another swabs the middle of the man's chest roughly with iodine, suggesting a heart donation.
 In a flashback, a woman stands looking through a glass panel into a hospital operatory prep room at a man on a gurney; he has a long partially healed, wide, reddish scar over the left kidney and lung area, indicating an organ donation.
 A woman comes out of a washroom using a walker, bending low at the waist and she has sunken eyes; the back of her bruised hand has a medical inlet taped into it. A man is shown in a hospital, he walks with his hand over his left side, suggesting a recent surgery, and he bends over and coughs twice, grimacing in pain. A woman is shown in bed in a bare hospital room with gauze taped over her eye after an organ donation; bruises cover her wrist and hand. At a hospital, we see a man on crutches missing a leg (his pant leg pinned up).
 A girl walks up behind a boy, startling him, and he spins around, hitting her accidentally on the jaw; we later see a bruise. With a smirk and taunting voice, one girl tells another girl that she will never get a boy to like her and can't get anyone to talk to her. A 12-year-old boy is bullied by 3 girls, who tease and make faces at him. Many boys bully a boy for not catching a ball flying over a fence; the group of boys walks away while the bullied boy screams at the sky, with clenched fists. A man stands in the middle of a road, screams loudly at the sky, and begins to stomp around until a woman grabs him around the shoulders and they collapse on the road.
 A man's artwork is full of grotesque figures, like a giant bat with a bison head, animals with huge teeth, and figures similar to those of Picasso and Salvador Dali. A teacher displays a full skeleton on a table in a science class.
 We hear that a donor died after a 2nd donation. We hear that organ donations are often forced before the body is healed from a previous donation. Dozens of times, we hear that human clones donate organs in young adulthood, until 3 or 4 donations make them "complete," meaning dead. We hear a woman talking about people not living into adulthood because they were bred to donate organs. A girl relates a story that a boy from the school crossed a fence and was found two days later in the woods, tied to a tree with his hands and feet cut off; and that a girl crossed the boundary and starved to death, because she was not allowed back in. A girl asks a teacher why nothing is done to stop the constant taunting of one boy. A woman says, "We were not looking into your souls; we were looking to see if you had souls." A woman remarks to another woman and a man, "You poor creatures." We hear that a teacher is no longer with a school and she is described as subversive. There are several references to finding souls in clones.
 The film takes place largely in dimly lit scenes in crumbling old buildings, in dark classrooms, and in sparsely furnished, dimly lit clinics and most scenes include drizzling rain on gray days. We see 2 garbage men grunt at the children and roughly dump large boxes of broken, dirty toys and other items onto old tables.

PROFANITY 3 - 8 sexual references, name-calling (stupid, models, winos, drunks, prostitutes, junkies, trash, rat, creatures), 12 stereotypical references to girls, class differences, women, teachers and human clones, 1 religious exclamation. [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - Four scenes contain a bottle or bottles of prescription medications with labels we cannot see clearly and about 30 children file by to pick up medication. A school principal during an assembly tells children that she found 3 burned cigarettes in a school flowerpot and the children must stay well by not smoking.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Human rights, human cloning, human souls, illness, organ transplants, death, slavery, discrimination, loneliness.

MESSAGE - When people have no control over their own lives, some become accommodated to their circumstances and other do not. Selfishness devalues humanity.

Special Keywords: S8 - V6 - P3 - MPAAR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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