The Giver is a film which is directed by Phillip Noyce who some may know as the director of The Bone Collector (1999). The Giver Stars Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan and Taylor Swift. It’s a science fiction movie which is set in a futuristic society that is absent the worries of war, pain and suffering.
The society in which this film is set in I think is aiming to be a utopian society but as the film progresses parts of it are highlighted to the viewer which would suggest the utopia is actually a dystopia. In The Giver the society is very totalitarian and controlling. People are conditioned through medicine and removed of almost all emotions and the characters don’t even know the concept of love. It’s a cold society that lives in a bubble type of world. This all changes however when Jonas, who is played by Brenton Thwaites is allocated to go work with The Giver, who is played by Jeff Bridges.
The Giver is this character that can sort of give you memories or emotions if you have the special mark on your wrist. If you meet him and rub your wrist against his wrist you’ll get these emotions/memories from him, it’s his power. You don’t get The Giver’s personal memories but sort of societies memories. As Jonas is exposed to new emotions he’s never felt such as love and even lust, things start appearing in colour in his world. Jonas quickly starts feeling some feelings of love for Fiona who is played by Odeya Rush and soon notices her hair colour. While at the same time the Chief Elder who is played by Meryl Streep seeks to put a stop to these emotions and the movie goes from there….
The film is based on a book written by Lois Lowry which is also called The Giver. I haven’t read the book, but I have read online that it’s actually a very good book and possibly a classic. But as for the film I didn’t really think it stood up as something special. It has these ideas about different concepts such as life, death, violence and emotional control as well as governments and their ability to control people through conditioning. But it’s like the film tried to make these points so clear and repeated them so much that you would have to have your face deep inside your pop corn box to miss them. There is no subtle points or cool moments to make you think in The Giver, everything is shown to you and explained so clearly that it gets repetitive and even predictable. This is a shame because the story and concept is interesting, it’s like the film had all these great things to say and to show us all but in how it presented it, it just didn’t work so well.
The actors in this film are mixed. You get some good performances and some great scenes every time Jeff Bridges or Meryl Streep are on screen and especially when they are in the same scene. But the rest of the actors don’t really do that much and their characters aren’t really that smart either. Taylor Swift is only in The Giver for a few minutes and the majority of the film is made up of scenes which contain Brenton Thwaites who does okay but is overshadowed by the Academy Award winners every single time. Other actors like Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes and Odeya Rush are playing these very two dimensional predictable characters so don’t really have much impact at all.
In terms of the directing of this film from Phillip Noyce it was okay. But between the directing and the script, I can’t decide which let the film down more. While I did like the style of the film at the start of The Giver, with it being in black and white and slowly changing to colour as the characters began to feel things, that was all I really liked. I didn’t like the constant flashback memories, they just seemed random and out of place with the society they were living in.
Overall The Giver had some very interesting concepts and ideas but I didn’t feel like they were presented and shown in best way. Maybe the run time was just not long enough to fully give us a more meaningful film, I’m not sure. But it doesn’t have that impact moment you would want from a science fiction film. The Hunger Games movies are much better than anything in The Giver and there are quite a few dystopian films out there that are as well. You do get some good performances from Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, but when do you not get great performances from them? The rest of the cast are okay, but it’s the script and the directing that failed to leave an impact on me when I watched this film. If you’re a fan of the book I guess go and check it out, but if you’re not, maybe you should just wait for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1 later this year…