<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Phillip Noyce. Starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Taylor Swift, Cameron Monaghan, Emma Tremblay
Yet another YA (young adult) fiction novel gets the big screen treatment and we cringe at the banality of it all while secretly wishing we had another Twilight film to watch instead. The horror!
In the first fifteen minutes of the film where you see a ‘community’ of people who are secluded and same, sans emotion and conflict and assigned different roles by ‘Elders’ you sort of think of the film Divergent. Similar concept but you’d be wrong to think The Giver has borrowed from Divergent. The book on which The Giver was based (by author Lois Lowry) was written decades before.
In a future scenario, a piece of land has been cultivated with a species of people who are meant to be the same. They have no last names, they all wear similar clothing, they are assigned tasks, and there is no hate and no love. Just ‘precision of language’ and family units living in harmony and ultimately performing roles they are most suited to but assigned by the Elders who are lead by the Chief (Meryl Streep). She finds the ‘different’ boy Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) to be the perfect choice for The Receiver, the one who will learn how to store all the horrible and wonderful memories of humans past in his mind so that their community can learn from them and remember never to repeat those ‘mistakes’.
Showing us that young Jonas is indeed not the protagonist of the film (partly because he’s not such a great presence nor a good actor as yet) we have The Giver played by Jeff Bridges who merely does what he does in all his films of late. But he still ends up doing a better job than the rest of this cast including Academy Award-winning legend Meryl Streep whose wig looks like something out of an old Addams Family re-run.
The Giver shows Jonas happy memories and then sad ones. Very quickly Jonas turns on his community and well, you know what happens next.
The Giver starts off in black and white and then gains colour and then slips into a sepia tone and then goes back to colour which all seems very tedious and unnecessary. Also, a lot of the dialogue is tiring. Watching Katie Holmes (yes, Tom Cruise’s ex-wife) say the same thing: “precision of language please” throughout isn’t fun and neither is watching Meryl Streep act like a dour old hag.
I didn’t particularly like Divergent but it was still a bit more fun than The Giver, which fails to tackle its philosophical content and misses out on making an impact with the dark aspects of the story. Frankly, I blame all these ‘young adult’ fiction writers for creating so much similar crap for a target audience of teenagers who frankly have gotten over this stuff after the Twilight Saga ended. So please stop!