Director: Phillip Noyce
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep
Release Date: August 15, 2014
Dystopian civilizations are the latest trend in Hollywood with films like The Hunger Games, The Purge, and Divergent gracing the big screen in the last couple of years. The latest film to join the list is The Giver which is based on Lois Lowry's novel of the same name. The novel starts off as an Utopian society but it soon becomes obvious that the citizens are living in a dystopia world. Lowry's novel went on to win the Newbry Medal, an award given to the author of "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." Jeff Bridges approached Lowry eighteen years ago to make her novel into a feature film but looking forward at the final project, Bridges, Noyce and the rest of the team that put this film together has done just as much justice to the book that is beloved nation-wide, even if it was eighteen years later.
The haunting story of The Giver centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who is the sole keeper of all the community's memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community's secret past. With this new found power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined - a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all - a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before.
Like with the majority of films that are based on a book, things are usually left out for the sake of time. Whatever does not develop the main character or get them to the end is usually left out of the film. That is also true for The Giver
but things are also changed from its original source material. In the book, Jonas is 12 years old but in the film Jonas and the rest of the graduates are 16. The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep
) plays a bigger role in the film than she does in the book. Another thing that was altered for the film was the love connection between Jonas and Fiona (Odeya Rush
); in the book it was portrayed as flirtatious but in the movie it becomes way more serious. Nonetheless, readers should not worry at all as Lowry worked with the producers to make sure her novel was brought to life the way she always imagined it.
The visuals of the film were simply beautiful. The film starts off in black and white due the story's "sameness". Everyone is the same, no one stands outs and as Jonas progresses throughout the film and gains more knowledge, the amount of colors he sees changes as well. But as soon as the film focuses on another character so does the amount of color shown. The color scheme was not the only thing beautifully depicted. From the Giver's house to the cloud bank that surrounds the area passed "The Edge" that covered "Elsewhere" was not only beautifully constructed but also how you would imagine it while reading the novel.
One can go on and talk about the visuals but by far the truest highlight of the film was the acting. Thwaites delivers his best performance of the year thus far as he also had roles in The Signal and Maleficent. The wide-eyed Thwaites was very believable in his role as an individual who is being introduced to so many elementary concepts. Bridges played the titled character, The Giver, and even though Bridges does not have the physical characteristics as the illustrations of the character on the book cover, Bridges has the demeanor and wisdom to make up for it. Streep's Chief Elder is nothing extraordinary at first but as the film progresses towards its climax, she becomes colder and more intense. Streep and Bridges' characters share a very emotional and intellectual dialogue towards the end of the film which is used as the emotional hammer of the film. Note: many might go see this film for their love for Taylor Swift who plays Rosemary over their love for the book but her role is very minor and isn't on screen as often as fans would want.
Overall, if you're a fan of the novel than you will be a fan of the film as well and if the film does succeed than you can expect to see the sequels in theaters too, but hopefully fans don't need to wait another eighteen years. The Giver does not end with the energy that was needed as Jonas escapes his world and heads towards "The Edge" but the dialogue between The Giver and Chief Elder that was mentioned before saves that temporarily. As the summer blockbuster season comes to an end, The Giver is one of the best acting films we have received. I totally recommend going to theaters to see this film but not on opening weekend as it is something you can wait on.
Labels: 2014, Brenton Thwaites, DVD, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Movie Review, Phillip Noyce