The Giver

"Good"

The Giver Review


Yet another teen sci-fi adventure, this movie may be sharply well-made but it struggles to find anything to say to an audience that has explored these themes much more meaningfully in films like The Hunger Games and Divergent. A solid cast makes it watchable, but a swelling flood of sentimentality undermines everything. And there isn't much subtext there to begin with.

Set in the distant future, society has rebuilt itself after "The Ruin" by eliminating all emotions, memories and art. The story centres on 18-year-old Jonas (BrentonThwaites), who is stunned to be selected as the next Receiver of Memories, working with the Giver (Jeff Bridges) to understand everything the elders have deliberately obliterated through both daily drug injections and some sort of magical barrier beyond the surrounding, forbidden mist. But the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) is worried that Jonas is going rogue with his new knowledge, and Jonas' parents (Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes) are also noticing something is amiss. So when Jonas tries to enlist his childhood pals Fiona and Asher (Odeya Rush and Cameron Monaghan) in small acts of rebellion, things come to a head.

Director Phillip Noyce creates a terrific visual look for the film's setting, with slickly designed sets,eye-catching effects and a colour scheme that begins in black and white and slowly adds hues as Jonas discovers more truth. But nothing about this society resonates: the best science-fiction tells us something about our world here and now, but parallels are very hard to spot in this faux utopia. Instead, we are faced with an implausible set-up that tries to convince us that people would mindlessly carry on without emotional or physical connections. And the idea that deleting these from human existence would make for a more peaceful society is just silly. Sure, we'd all like a world without violence and bigotry, but at the expense of personal freedom?

Each of the actors is solid. Thwaites, Rush and Monaghan manage to bring some wide-eyed teen spark to their roles, while Bridges adds some badly needed gruffess to his scenes, plus the film's only emotional moments as he reminisces about his failed previous protege (Taylor Swift). On the other hand, it's anyone's guess why Streep is here, especially with such unflattering hair and make-up. Perhaps she owed someone a favour, but at least she adds her usual mixture of honest intelligence and wit. So it's very frustrating that, in the absence of any real message, the film merely falls back on the idea that it's just wonderful to be alive, isn't it? And as the sappiness takes over, there's a nagging sense that the film itself is trying to indulge in some mind control.

 



The Giver

Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th August 2014

Box Office USA: $45.1M

Budget: $25M

Distributed by: The Weinstein Company

Production compaines: Tonik Productions, The Weinstein Company, Walden Media, As Is Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 50 Rotten: 90

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Jeff Bridge, , Nikki Silver

Starring: as The Giver, as Chief Elder, as Jonas, Odeya Rush as Fiona, as Jonas's father, as Jonas' mother, as Rosemary, as Asher, Katharina Damm as Nurturer, Emma Tremblay as Lily

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