Movie Review: The Giver (2014)

Posted: August 25, 2015 in Drama
Tags: ,

the giver

In a future world called The Community, where everything is controlled by a Council of Elders, Jonas (Brandon Thwaites) Asher (Cameron Monoghan) and Fiona (Odeya Rush) grow up together.  It is just before their 18th birthday, before their professions are chosen for them by the Elders.  The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) chooses Fiona to be a nurturer, Asher becomes a drone pilot, and although he is not initially chosen, The Chief Elder chooses Jonas to be a receiver of memories.  The Giver (Jeff Bridges) is the keeper of all the ancient memories, and he starts transmitting them telepathically to Jonas.  Jonas sees all the joys and pain of life as we know it today, all the things that cause pain have been strategically removed from The Community. Jonas wants to share the happy parts of his emotional awakening with Fiona, and they start to share a romantic bond. Jonas realizes the perfect world that he, Fiona and Asher live in is not so perfect after all.  The Giver and Jonas hatch a plan for Jonas to escape The Community, but the Chief Elder wants to maintain the status quo, so she sends drone pilot Asher to find him.  Does Jonas escape the protective bubble of The Community? Or does the Chief Elder keep an iron fist on the society she continues to thrive in?

The story of The Giver seems to borrow generously from legendary dystopian novels like 1984, and Brave New World, visually it was reminiscent of movies like Pleasantville, The Truman Show and Elysium.  Unfortunately, the part of Fiona is written from such an obvious standpoint of sexism, I don’t know whether to blame the author or the screenwriter. The plot does try to get overtly political, it’s not important to say what topics were discussed, but it was done in a really heavy handed  way and that was off-putting to me.The biblical metaphors were also obvious and heavy handed.

The acting by Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep are outstanding,  Jeff Bridges plays the title role as somewhat of an enigma, but by the end of the movie his motivations are clear.  Meryl Streep excels at playing evil women, think of The Devil Wears Prada when watching this movie, and see if there’s not a similarity to that character and this one. I wish I could say nice things about the performances of Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush and Breton Thwaites, who were chosen expressly for their looks and not for their acting skills.  Taylor Swift is also in this movie briefly, I wondered why this character was given such importance, but then I saw Taylor Swift was playing her, the producers probably hoped that Ms. Swift’s presence in the film would drive up box office, it didn’t work.

The direction is visually stimulating, and probably the best part of the film.  Unfortunately, there are some parts of this movie that looks like it was taken out of a National Geographic special, but without the visuals, this movie would seem pretty empty.

The Giver:  Give It Up.

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