Jeff Bridges and Brenton Thwaites in “The Giver”
Based on the book of the same, The Giver is a tale that is all-to-familiar in the young adult market of today. If you’ve seen The Hunger Games, Divergent, or even Harry Potter you’ve certainly seen The Giver. It takes place in a dystopian universe much like the previous films mentioned, the only major differences are the city rests on a mountaintop and is referred to in the film only as “The community”. The people that live in it are given jobs by “elders” that are all knowing and powerful. Lois Lowry’s Novel is considered a classic in literature, however the film adaption does it no credit. As it is filled with idiots that aren’t even given the chance to discover that more exists in the world around them.
Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is left bewildered during his Graduation “Ceremony” when he isn’t given a job like his fellow friends and its only last minute when the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) appears via hologram to bestow upon him the “honorable” job of receiver of memory. A sacred job within the community that doesn’t allow him to divulge what he learns with his friend Asher (Cameron Monaghan) or love interest Fiona (Odeya Rush). During his training Jonas receives “memories” from The Giver (Jeff Bridges), which are really vast images of life cut together; whether it be war, animals running free with nature, or even rushing waterfalls. This not only grabs Jonas attention, but he finds it hard to keep to himself and runs to tell his friends, its Murphy’s Law in full effect. The Chief elder however, is already upon him as he starts to spread the knowledge he has gained throughout the community. Jonas finds himself thrust into a dilemma, run for his life past the city boundary or stay and be “released” which is another word death in this universe.
The Giver, which brings nothing new to the table, is an entertaining film, yet painful to watch. It’s a world inhabited by idiots and those who don’t truly understand the meaning of their actions. The film is also primarily shot in black and white, which is an excellent creative decision, but may scare away those who aren’t familiar with the format or its homage to the films of the 40’s and 50’s.
The acting from the cast is truly superb for telling a tale that is so overdone that it has become mundane for those familiar with the material. Taylor Swift who does in fact have a significant role in developing the film’s backstory about the previous receiver of memory appears for three brief scenes and is only referred to as the “girl”. Later we discover her name to be Rosemary, but by this point its too late as action must be taken and the show must come to a conclusion. Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgaard who plays Jonas Surrogate mother and father almost really have no purpose being in the film except to tell people to be “precise with their language”, meaning roughly that language is the contraband of this unusual universe.
The Giver is not recommended and in fact you would be better off watching something about celebrating life like Jon Favreau’s Chef or The Hundred foot Journey. Instead of something that merely hints at it.