American social science film, The Giver, was recently released on 15 August in the USA and is due to hit UK cinemas in the next few months. The film centres on a ‘perfect’ utopian society that lives without pain, war, suffering, differences or choice. However, when 12-year-old Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories, he must take on the emotions lacking in his perfect community and confront the unhappy truths of the real world.

The Giver
Jeff Bridges and Brenton Thwaites star in The Giver

Based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Lois Lowry, the movie has been produced by Jeff Bridges who spent years trying to bring the futuristic novel to the big screen. After encountering obstacles when Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film, Bridges was finally able to bring his vision to worldwide cinemas.

But, before we watch it, what do we need to know?

The Book

The Giver by Lois Lowry is a children’s novel which follows a boy named Jonas as he goes through the twelfth year of his life. His society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to ‘Sameness’ - a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from the lives of the perfect society inhabitants.

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When selected to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory, Jonas is guided by the present Receiver, The Giver, and begins to experience emotions, both happy and sad, for the first time.

The Giver has received polarized criticism since its publication. It won the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold more than 10 million copies, appearing on many middle school reading lists in Australia, Canada and the United States. However, it is also one of the most challenged books of the 1990s, meaning its removal from libraries and school curriculums has been requested many times.

The Cast

The Giver
Brenton Thwaites plays Jonas in The Giver

Producer Jeff Bridges was keen for his father, Lloyd Bridges, to play the role of The Giver in the film; however, after a number of set-backs, he took on the pivotal role himself.

Brenton Thwaites takes the other main lead as Jonas, the Receiver of Memory. Thwaites is an Australian actor who is best known for parts in teen drama SLiDE and the soap opera, Home and Away.

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Meryl Streep undertakes the main role of the Chief Elder and smaller parts are filled by Alexander Skarsgård as Jonas’ father, Katie Holmes as Jonas’ mother and Taylor Swift as Rosemary, the Giver’s child.

The Reviews

So far, reviews of The Giver have been mixed.

Rotten Tomatoes said: "Phillip Noyce directs The Giver with visual grace, but the movie doesn’t dig deep enough into the classic source material’s thought-provoking ideas."

The Guardian gave the film 3/5 stars saying:"Phillip Noyce’s futureworld looks great and, despite a dodgy script and some familiar tropes, it gets the essentials right."

However, The Slate states that the movies struggles with "sameness" and "claims to oppose conformity but warps its source material to resemble every other teen-marketed dystopia."

Watch the trailer for The Giver here.