The Giver review

Phillip Noyce
Jeff Bridges
Meryl Streep
Brenton Thwaites
Odeya Rush
Rated: PG-13

Based on a 1993 novel of the same name, “The Giver” follows the story of Jonas (Thwaites), a young man living in a society with no war, pain or suffering. This is made possible because there is no emotion or feeling. On the day when he finds out what he will do for a career in the dystopian future, Jonas learns that he will discover the history of his people from The Giver (Bridges).

As Jonas begins to learn from The Giver, he discovers emotion and passion in life, and he looks to share it with those around him. This is forbidden, though, and he becomes a target of the Chief Elder of the community (Streep).

Dystopian futures seems to be the new craze in Hollywood as “Divergent” and now “The Giver” try to ride the coat tails of “The Hunger Games.”

Unfortunately, despite the book being released in 1993, the movie has come out after the other two franchises and at this point the concept is a bit dry and overused. Making matters worse is this film has no real style or format to set itself apart from those other films.

The film “Equilibrium” had a similar idea with any form of feeling or emotion being illegal, however, that movie had very stylized action sequences which made it unique.

This is what “The Giver” really lacks, as there is never anything to raise it above being average. The scenes where he learns about the past and figures out emotions are somewhat interesting, yet the story just seems to plod along to an unexciting climax.

Another problem the movie faces is overcoming the fact that none of the characters can show much emotion. Because of that, the acting comes across as basically robotic. It’s understandable that it’s what they were going for, but the acting is so dry and wooden that the movie ends up lacking a sense of urgency.

The only one who was able to deliver some sort of passion was Jeff Bridges since he wasn’t bound to being emotionless. For the time he is on screen, he steals the whole show and is probably the highlight of the movie.

Actresses like Katie Holmes and Meryl Streep are simply wasted here, though. They never get a chance to have any really powerful moments.

The worst part, though was the protagonist Jonas himself. His journey never felt compelling, it was as if him learning about emotions and the history weren’t explored well enough. Another negative is that Thwaites simply didn’t have a lot of screen presence.

The film also uses black and white until Jonas starts to feel emotion again and can see the real world. An interesting concept, however, I believe it could have been a point of filmmaking where more style could have been added. Having something similar to the use of color in “Sin City” would have given the movie a more interesting feel.

“The Giver” simply doesn’t have enough to make it any better or more interesting than other young adult adaptions that are out lately. The idea isn’t bad but the execution makes it come off as dull. Making matters worse is the fact that the acting never adds much to what’s going on and the story is poorly paced making for a boring middle and an unsatisfying conclusion. It’s either a rental unless you’re a fan of the original novel. Low 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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