The greatest irony is that in making so sure Donors were anything but human, the one losing its humanity was society itself.
Consider the chilling scene in which Ruth (Keira Knightley) goes under the knife for the third and final time. The group of surgeons surrounding her cut, open and remove, not once stopping to consider the woman on the gurney dying before their eyes. The precision with which they move and slice is beyond accurate; it borders the mechanical.
After they acquire what they came from, there is no solemn moment of silence, respectful closing of the victim’s eyes, or even calling the time of death. They abandon Ruth to the solitude she always dreaded ending up with, and head to repeat the process on some other poor soul, who may or may not complete in the process.
“You poor creatures”, Madame tells Kathy (Carey Mulligan) near the end of the movie. And then she heads back inside her home, willingly oblivious to the extraordinary pain that has just been caused to Kathy and Tommy (Andrew Garfield).
Luckily for the audience-or unluckily, depending on your level of tolerance for achingly devastating romances-, every frame of this picture is imbued with such melancholy that only cynics will share in Madame’s attitude.
But a wistful tone alone is not what makes Kathy and Tommy’s plight so memorable and poetic. It is Mulligan’s performance, one of my all time favorites, expressing so much by saying so little; it is Rachel Portman’s sorrowful score, whose haunting tunes exacerbate the proceedings; it is dejected individuals, quietly accepting the fates they have been told all their lives is theirs.