Imagine a world where books don’t exist. Love has been eliminated. Everything that differentiates you from others is squashed. There is no first love because there is no love. And the miracle of life has been compartmentalized into a duty or societal function.
This is what we meet when we’re introduced to Jonas (Brendan Thwaites) and his friends Fiona (Odeya Rush) and Asher (Cameron Monaghan). Three kids on the verge of adulthood will soon find their place in the society for which they belong. They’ll be given a purpose, not asked to choose one themselves.
But what fate awaits Jonas cannot be predicted. He’s been selected to be the community’s next “Receiver of Memories.” The one who holds all the knowledge of the past so that society can live in the future without regret or ambition, only caring for what is going on presently.
If you’ve already read my book review of The Giver by Louis Lowry, then you know the storyline. Here I’m going to talk a little bit about the changes they made to the story and if it had a significant impact or not.
Jonas, Fiona and Asher are more than 12 years old. I cannot tell you how old they are, but I can tell you that there’s no way they’re having the kids who play them pass for 12. They actually leave it a little ambiguous.
Overall, no real impact to the storyline.
Fiona works for the Infant Care Center instead of the Center for the Old.
Asher becomes a pilot. These were done on purpose because they changed around some of the storyline toward the end. They allow Fiona and Asher to somewhat empathize with Jonas during his escape, essentially becoming accomplices.
A great addition to the storyline.
There is now a “boundary of memories” erected around the parameter of the community. Essentially, if the Giver goes outside of this barrier they enter “Elsewhere” and no longer hold the memories back from the community.
They also develop the landscape outside of the community, including the Triangle of rocks and the desert-like landscape.
Both are necessary additions to make the movie more visual.
Fiona and Jonas share a love story – as much as Fiona is able to love Jonas. This is something that Lowry’s book may not have allowed for because of the age of Jonas. I think it’s one of the key reasons that Jonas was made to be so much older than the character in the book.
An interesting twist, but no significant impact really.
Finally, the Giver and Fiona are being sentences to their “extraction” to Elsewhere after Jonas escapes. Essentially, they’ve been sentenced to death although they probably wouldn’t have actually killed the Giver as he still held a lot of memories for the people.
So what are my overall thoughts?
Overall this was a great movie with an important message. Sometimes regulation is good because it provides safety and standards, but too much regulation can lead to a society without color, love and creativity.
Jeff Bridges was amazing as the Giver. The interaction he had with Thwaites is amazing. You literally saw a blossoming father/son relationship happening on screen.
I was also surprised by Alexander Skarsgård and his ability to portray the doting, sensitive father figure. I had only previously seen him as Erik in True Blood. He was able to perfectly show the balance between caretaker and actual loving father. A great new dynamic way to see him.
The online reviews have been pretty good as well. I think the message of the movie is getting more attention than any of the performances or changes to the storyline. And really, I think Lowry would be happy with that. Her only critique: They should have left the ending ambiguous like the book was. (I wholeheartily agree!)
I give this movie 5 stars and invite all those with teenagers to take them out for dinner and a movie to enjoy this flick and start a dialogue with your kids.
What was the last movie you saw that had a good message attached to it?
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