Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgård, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan
Directed By: Phillip Noyce
Written By: Michael Mitnick, Robert B. Weide
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 1 hr 34 min
The Giver is not quite the dystopian* science fiction the kids are into these days, since everyone living in ‘the community’ actually seems pretty happy about it. It’s also different from recent offerings like The Hunger Games and Divergent in that there’s no unruly underclass to exploit and play games with. No, The Giver actually reminded me more of Logan’s Run, in that every aspect of people’s lives from birth to retirement is centrally controlled to create peace and order, and avoid dangerous distractions like passion and love.
The Giver is based on a popular novel written in 1993 by Lois Lowry, which predates The Hunger Games and Divergent by quite a few years. It’s also been a pet project for Jeff Bridges for quite while, as he initially wanted to direct the movie and cast his father Lloyd Bridges in the title role. Unable to get the money to make the film, this project remained unmade until the dystopian science fiction genre became popular with movie going audiences. There then is really the only connection I see between The Giver and those other movies. One wouldn’t exist without the success of the others, and after watching the film I’m pretty satisfied with the results. I hope it does well too so a sequel can get a green light, and we can explore this universe a little more. Failing that, I guess I could just read the books!
The Giver is a good film, and I found myself vested in the journey taken by Jonas (Brenton Thwaites). As audience surrogate and lead character in this story, this connection was very important, and I was impressed with Brenton Thwaites performance. The movies central message as far as I interpreted it, being the world is what we make of it and only fear can destroy us, is well delivered. Even moving at times.
On reflection however, in the hours following the film I did start to question other elements in the story. I wondered why the barrier existed, and how it could control the memories of everyone living within its boundaries. I also started to wonder how the technology on display was created. Since invention requires inspiration, and inspiration requires an emotional reaction to outside stimulus, which the citizens of the community gladly avoid with daily injections and even fake trees. But now I’m just getting picky, and those missing details did not stop me enjoying this film.
* Dystopia: A society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.
I would suggest if you decided to take this film on, don’t go into this looking for every detail to be explained. Focus on the film’s clear central themes to get the best out of this movie. Also, don’t go into this expecting another Hunger Games or Divergent, as The Giver is more about the human experience rather than a fight against the ruling classes.
It’s an interesting film visually, as everything starts out in black and white, and then becomes colored as Jonas begins to learn more about the past and experience more emotion. A matinée screening will service this film well enough. At home a HD viewing on your nice big TV is the way to go. This film’s visuals will lose their impact on a smaller screen.
Brenton Thwaites performance.