The Giver Review
If only this had been made twenty years ago ...
Jonas lives in a perfect society where there is no prejudice, bad language, discrimination and everyone lives in peace and friendship – something must be wrong, right?
The Giver was a novel written by author Lois Lowry that has gained a huge popularity, so much so that it is on the required reading syllabus in certain US states. When Jeff Bridges first read it he wanted to bring it to the big screen as a vehicle for his father, but that never happened. It has taken some twenty years, but the Giver has finally made it.
The story is that of Jonas a youth who, like all his peers, is assigned a job based on his qualifications and temperament in the ideal society in which he resides; a society formed in the aftermath of an unnamed catastrophe where there is no prejudice, bad language or discrimination and everyone lives in peace and friendship. However, when he is chosen to be the ‘Receiver of Memories’ he learns the true past of the ideal community, and thus the terrible cost that that entails, from the Giver. The Giver (the previous ‘Receiver’) is an older, somewhat bitter man, who is tasked with holding the secrets and finds it a chore due to personal tragedy. When Jonas comes along he finds a kindred spirit and trains him to overthrow the society by becoming a Giver himself.
Twenty years ago, this would have been a terrific story, but unfortunately time has not been too kind, the ideas as presented seem somewhat stale and contrived, everything from Logan’s Run to Demolition Man can be seen in it, and as such the film fails to have any ‘originality’ despite being such an influence. And that is perhaps the fundamental flaw in The Giver. The original novel written during the 90’s would have made a terrific film; but sadly they no longer seem that original.
The ideas are laudable, the acting is excellent, the effects are top notch and the story is perfectly serviceable; it’s just that there is always that sense of inevitability – you simply know where the story is headed; the background characters are very predictable, so whilst the characters are quite well defined their actions are never in any doubt and the outcome is thus obvious. Having said that it is very well made, there is much to admire, there is a deal of being swept along with the story and it contains enough pathos, characterisation and energy to make an enjoyable if not totally satisfying watch.
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