Never Let Me Go Movie Poster Image

Never Let Me Go

Young people ponder sex, love, life in downer sci-fi drama.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The essential idea behind the movie is that life, any life, is valuable. The characters learn empathy and kindness toward each other and only experience trouble when true love gets in the way of their destinies. Eventually the characters learn that, even though they may only have a short time on earth, their experiences are just as important as those with much longer lives.

Positive role models

The main character, Kathy, is a sad creature; she seems lonely and lost and always somewhat aware of everything she's missed in life. She's not very active and really hasn't much choice in anything. Eventually she experiences a brief moment of real love and learns to appreciate it; she understands that even a brief moment, fully lived, is worth a lifetime.


There's some anger and raging, and a boy accidentally slaps a girl. Also a couple of somewhat gory hospital scenes. And there's a general sense of unease around the lives of these young people, who are trapped within the rules of a sinister organization.


At all of the three different ages they're shown -- preteens, teens, and twentysomethings -- these characters think and talk a great deal about sex. The preteens fall in love, hold hands, kiss, wonder about sex, and pine for each other. As teens, they actually do have sex (there's moaning and one partial naked breast), and they ponder the meaning of an adult relationship. A teen girl also looks through a nudie magazine that has several photos of naked female breasts.



"Oh my God."


Teens order Cokes in a diner.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some cigarettes are found on the school grounds, and there's speculation that some of the preteens may have smoked them.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this romantic drama with sci-fi elements (which is based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro) is probably too offbeat to appeal to most teens, and its premise -- (possible spoiler alert) that the young people it follows have been specially bred to provide "spare parts" for "real" people -- is quite unsettling. As the main characters grow from preteens to teens to twentysomethings, they talk and think a great deal about love and sex (there's some partial female nudity) before finally experiencing these things first hand ... and then things get even more complicated. There's very little language or violence, but the overall tone is sinister and depressing.

What's the story?

Kathy (Carey Mulligan) appears to work in some capacity in a hospital. In flashback, viewers learn about her past, growing up at a rather peculiar school. She falls in love with Tommy but loses him to her friend, Ruth. Before long, the children learn their real purpose (possible spoiler alert): They have been specially created for "spare parts" to be donated to "real," sick people. Years later, Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) are still together. Rumors begin to circulate that there may be special treatment for couples who are truly in love, but Kathy volunteers as a "carer," which will take her on a different path from her friends. Will these young people discover the secret behind their lives, and can true love conquer all?

Is it any good?


Based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro and directed by celebrated former music video maker Mark Romanek, this film is meticulously made and never less than interesting. It develops and sustains a specific, eerily effective mood that's hard to describe; it's somewhat dystopian but also somewhat like an alternate reality.

The three stars are captivating and charismatic, but that may not be enough to provide a real emotional connection in the movie's chilly, thoroughly depressing atmosphere. The overall science fiction idea hangs over the entire film like a dark cloud; it has no beginning or ending or center, and it's unchanging. Although the movie's ultimate point is to appreciate what little we're actually given (and also to value the real meaning of being human), it leaves little room for hope.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts sex. The characters are very curious about sex. Do they learn about it in healthy ways?

  • Do you think the movie's overall message is positive or negative? Why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 15, 2010
DVD/Streaming release date:February 1, 2011
Cast:Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley
Director:Mark Romanek
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:some sexuality and nudity

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Teen, 14 years old Written byTyler Durden ❤ August 11, 2013

One of my favourite films

Never Let Me Go is a film about 3 people, who realise that their purpose in life is to give away their organs when they reach their mid twenties. It is very emotional, fairly depressing, and I think that the film is tragically beautiful. It has two very brief sex scenes in it, but they are only 20 second long, and Kathy does look at some pornographic magazines, but not for the reason you'd think. There is nothing in this film that is unsuitable for a mature 12/13 year old, and people older than that will have no problem with it. There are scenes of surgery and character do die, but not much is actually shown. There is no violence, and no bad language or drug use.
Teen, 14 years old Written byccbluebonnet July 1, 2011

Too Depressing

Hmm...this movie was, well, depressing to say the least. It starts off with 3 kids, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy. They're at this school called Hailsham, which is where they're required to live, and take really good care of themselves, for a reason unknown to them at the time. A new teacher/guardian comes and feels obligated to tell them their purpose in life; to be an organ donor. She tells them that they will go through 3 or 4 donations, and will "complete", or in other words, die, all depending on how strong their body is. Since they were this age, Kathy has always been in love with Tommy, but Ruth decided that she was "in love" with Tommy too. Ruth and Tommy got together, and this completes the first of 3 parts in the movie. The second part starts off with them at age 18 going to "The Cottages" where they will stay until their first donation. Tommy and Ruth are still together, and "happily" in love. In "The Cottages" they meet up with this other couple, who have heard about a deferal. They said it was a program that couples who were truly in love could apply for to set back their first donation date in order to be with each other a few years in the real world. Ruth, Kathy, and Tommy, said they'd never heard about it, and that it was probably just a rumor. After a couple more months, Kathy decides to be a caretaker. A caretaker is a person that is assigned a patient, and cares for them until they "complete". She leaves The Cottages, and for 10 years, is a caretaker. She is about to leave to go back to her apartment on day, when she sees an old friend on the computer screen. One whom she hasn't seen in ten years, one who has already given two donations, and isn't recovering well; Ruth. She goes to see her, and she looks very, very ill. They talk for a while, and Ruth brings up going on a vacation before her last donation, and suggests they take Tommy, who has also been through 2 donations, but is instead recovering well. They go to the beach where Ruth confesses that she is sorry for keeping Kathy and Tommy apart, when she knew they were truly meant to be. To make things right, she gives them the address to the place where they might be able to get the deferral, and be together for a couple of years. When they get back from their vacation, Ruth goes into her final surgery, and dies on the operating table. (Very depressing scene I might add) Next, Tommy and Kathy go to the address Ruth gave them, and they are told that there is no deferral program. A dramatic scene follows with Tommy throwing a fit in result of finding out about the deferrals. I won't tell you the rest, although you may be able to guess anyway.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 16 years old Written byArtichokes-United August 20, 2012

A Chilling and Moving Story.

Alot of people write this off as simply "depressing" but I whole heartedly disagree. Never Let me Go is a beautifully made film that follows the lives of three young people that were basically put on the earth to be used as organ donors. We watch them grow both physically and emotionally as they live out their short lives. The actors play their parts flawlessly and the emotions portrayed on screen are wonderful. The film makes you think about love, loss, and destiny. I brings up thought provoking questions such as: What really constitutes sacrafice for the greater good? Are the characters martyrs or victims? Did they ever really have any choice intheir lives? This Film is haunting but rewarding and despite it's bitter-sweet plot it really is quite a lovely and chilling story.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing