This is a review of the film. I have not read the book so forgive if there are mistakes in terms of plot or characters.
'The Giver' is a science-fiction film based upon the novel of the same name by Lois Lowry and was directed by Phillip Noyce. It stars Brenton Thwaites (Oculus, Meleficent) as the main character Jonas, an adolescent teenager who lives in a Utopian society in the future. The main premise of the film is that emotions have been stripped from the human conscious for emotions are what cause wars and conflict. However, Jonas is selected to the 'Receiver of Memories' which means that the Giver, played by Jeff Bridges, will pass on all the memories of human history so that if the council, headed by Meryl Streep, come across an obstacle when trying to solve a problem they turn to the Receiver of Memories as a means of guidance towards the right course of action. However, as Jonas develops during his training he begins to understand the truth by the society he lives and that it may not so Utopian after all.
First of all, it is important to note that since this world is void of emotion, no one sees in colour anymore and only in black and white. However as Jonas gradually learns more and more about the world they live in he begins to see colours and the what the world really looks like. Like Jonas at the beginning of the film, being unable to see colour, the film is quite slow to start and is slightly dull as it is nothing new we are seeing. Elements of 'Divergent' can be seen everywhere, through the Utopian society based on control, the teens selection of jobs, etc. It is not until Jonas begins to receive memories does the film pick up and the audience begins to develop an interest in this world.
Brenton Thwaites is not great in this film but he plays the character of a confused boy well enough to maintain the audience's emotional attachment to his character. He desperately wants to tell everyone what he is seeing but is unable to as his friends and family are unable to grasp the notion of feeling. The best performance in the film however is that of Jeff Bridges as the Giver. With a genuine performance he has the audience invest their emotion into this sad and lonely man as he is someone who has lost a daughter and is disturbed by this loss. Unlike the other performances, when you see Bridges smile you know it is a genuine one as he enjoys passing the happiness and joy of humans history to someone else.
When I saw Meryl Streep was in the film, I was excited because I have a huge amount of respect for her work. However, this film did not bring out the best in her. Her performance was bland and anything but memorable as she had the same expression on her face for the entire movie and did not necessarily offer anything major to the film. There were even moments where you weren't to sure if she was happy or sad, due to the same blank expression throughout the film.
The film itself is not entirely fresh and new. I wonder if any of you will remember the 2002 film 'Equilibrium' starring Christian Bale. It tells the exact same story of a Utopian world where emotion has been eradicated, yet one man develops emotions and sees that the world is not so Utopian after all. Sound familiar? It is understandable to see that this film is aimed at the teen audience but if I were to choose between 'The Giver' and 'Equilibrium' I would choose the latter for it is far more thought-provoking and raises far more pertinent questions to the idea of a controlled society really being a Utopia. It is also far more memorable as it has top-notch acting and amazing action sequences.
And don't even get me started on the ending to 'The Giver'. I have never seen a more ambiguous ending to film than in this one. It made no sense whatsoever as to the fate of Jonas and whether the society fell into chaos or accepted change.
Overall, 'The Giver' is a fairly forgettable film with a lack of substance and nothing new to offer in terms of themes or visuals. The pros however are that of great acting by Jeff Bridges and wonderful character development as Jonas begins to grasp the true vision of the world. All in all, 3 out of 5.