dLast night, I was able to go to a premiere live-stream event for The Giver, which also showed the film 4 days early! It was great to see interviews on the red carpet with the cast, as well as behind the scenes looks at the film. The experience was marred by the death of the great Robin Williams, which I had not heard about until Jeff Bridges broke down on the red carpet. But as Bridges stated many times during the show, Williams would want the show to go on. So here's my review of The Giver:
The story of The Giver follows the eighteen-year old Jonas in a strange world without war or pain, but also without love, family, and color (called Sameness). When Jonas is tasked with receiving the memory of the time before Sameness (our world) from the man who holds them, The Giver, he begins to learn of the beauty and pain of a world with emotion. However, when Jonas sees the despicable things that Sameness has brought on, he must hatch a plan to bring back true emotion to the world.
The Giver is a very well made film. It has been a passion project of Jeff Bridges for 18 years now, and the actor/producer has brought us a fantastic final product. The coloring is done perfectly, as we start in black and white, gradually adding to the color scheme as Jonas sees more colors, then later flipping back when we focus on different characters.
The film moves very quickly, never stopping for a second on anything that doesn't advance the plot or build the characters. It works though, keeping you engaged for the entire 100 minute run time.
The acting is what really makes The Giver a great film. Brenton Thwaites give an amazing performance as Jonas, more than capable of leading the film. Jeff Bridges is incredible as The Giver, certainly worthy of Oscar consideration (if this film were opening later in the year). His best scene is his last, as his speech during the climax is perfectly spoken to give the film the full emotional impact.
Odeya Rush plays Fiona, also in a great performance, as Jonas shows her the imperfections of their world and she starts to discover something that might be love. Katie Holmes and Meryl Streep also do well in the film, as they play the defenders of the Sameness. Taylor Swift's role is not as big as the marketing department would like you to believe (many fans showed up at the premiere to see her, not because they loved The Giver), as she only has a short scene as a holographic memory. She is very good though, in her short but pivotal role.
I am probably the only person on the planet to have not read [The Giver](movie:723657), but I have reliable sources that tell me it is very close to the book, although it would make a great standalone film anyways. The author Lois Lowry has given it her stamp of approval. She was on set for part of the filming, and attended the premiere last night, speaking often her praises for the film.
The message of the film is even stronger coming in the wake of Robin Williams death, the ideas of love, family, and the beauty and pain of life.
The Giver (PG-13) opens nationwide on Thursday night, and whether you're a book fan or not, this is not a film to miss.