“You will become adults, but only briefly. Before you are old, before you are even middle-aged, you will start to donate your vital organs. That’s what you were created to do. And sometime around your third or fourth donation, your short life will be complete.”
– Miss Lucy
A medical breakthrough in 1952 has changed the world, changed the way people live, lengthening life spans, fostering longevity and health. But at what cost? In the 1970’s, Kathy H (Isobel Meikle-Small) attends Hailsham, a boarding school, with her best friend Ruth (Ella Purnell). Kathy becomes infatuated with a young boy that seems to be the social outcast. His name is Tommy (Charlie Rowe), and the two become very close. The three become rather close, though the school is strange and bizarre. The students are not taught math and science, but instead spend copious amounts of time on artwork which they will submit the best work to the Gallery, run by Madame (Nathalie Richard). Miss Lucy (Sally Hawkins) joins the teaching staff, and she informs the students of their purpose in life: they are there to be harvested for organs. They will “complete” in early adulthood, which is just a nice way of saying they will die.
Ruth manages to snatch Tommy away from Kathy, which hurts her, but life must go on. The three graduate from Hailsham and go live at the cottages, where they will live among other donors. Kathy (Carey Mulligan) feels very left out at the cottages, where the other students seem to have partners and lives, despite their fate. Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) are still in a relationship, with Kathy being the ever-present third wheel. From other former students, the rumours of “deferral” reach their ears, meaning that if a couple is in love and they can prove it, they can possibly get a short reprieve from starting to donate. Kathy, meanwhile, battles to deal with Tommy and Ruth and their sexual relationship, ultimately leaving to become a carer, someone who takes care of other donors and comforts them, meaning she will wait a while longer.
Shortly after leaving the cottages and starting her job, Tommy and Ruth break up. Kathy does not see Tommy or Ruth again, but a decade later comes across Ruth, who has gone through two donations and is not looking very good. The two spend some time together, and later meet up with Tommy, who is looking pretty good despite also having been through a couple of donations. Ruth apologizes to Kathy and Tommy for having kept them apart, and encourages them to seek the rumoured deferral so that they may actually have some time together, going as far as to provide them with an address for Madame. Tommy and Kathy spend more and more time together, though Tommy is getting weaker. He is immensely excited, working on his artwork, sure that it will prove that he and Kathy deserve the deferral, that they are destined to be together.
Will they be granted the deferral? Will they get to finally spend some time together, after always having loved one another? Has Ruth made up for her past regressions in time? What will Tommy and Kathy be judged on to earn the deferral? When will Kathy have to end her job as a carer and complete the purpose for which she was made?
This was a suggestion from Table 9 Mutant of Cinema Parrot Disco, who gave it to me an age ago (yes, yes), but I have a watch list that is ridiculously long and sometimes I really just need a kick to get to something. Well, she finally kicked enough and I got to it. Now, the story for this is something I expected rather soon in, I could see how the plot was going to move with that and what the point of the school and the children were. I thought that Kathy and Tommy were so cute together, and it was highly predictable that Kathy’s best friend, Ruth, would swoop in to usurp Tommy (women’s logic: I want that man, not a man like that). I did not think it fair, though, that only Ruth bore the blame of having kept Tommy and Kathy apart, as Tommy could have nut up at any time and left her. But whatever. I enjoyed Carey Mulligan in here, and Andrew Garfield was absolutely adorable as always (yes, Eric and Brian, the little girl he is and all). Keira Knightly annoyed me in here, she had a character I could in no which way connect with, even by the end, I had not one shred of pity for her. Probably doesn’t help that I am not a fan of her acting, either. The movie left me feeling as though it was a missed opportunity by the end of it as it simply didn’t resonate. It had all the opportunity to, the opportunity for rebellion, for total unhappiness, for a fight, and instead everyone seemed content just to accept their roles and moved on, which peeved me. I cannot stand spinelessness, to be very honest. Weakness annoys the hell out of me. It was shot nicely, and everything had a dreary feel to it. As Natasha says, this was a very British type of film. I would recommend you watch it – while nothing revolutionary or new, it was decent for what it was. My mission now? To read the book, to see if it fleshes some things out a little bit more, making the story a little bit more fulfilling.