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 newfound 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. THE GIVER is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. (C) Weinstein
After two decades, a movie adaptation of The Giver is finally released and I was late to the screening. I missed the morning press screening so I attended an opening night showing with an audience. If I’m not polling for CinemaScore, this is a rarity. We had a greeting delivered to us from a passionate and knowledgeable employee named Maggie at the Landmark in Olde Town Arvada. She told us this was a project close to Jeff Bridges’ heart for a long time. He originally wanted his father to play the part of The Giver over two decades ago as we were told. Jeff Bridges ended up being old enough to play the role.
Despite all the anticipation, The Giver couldn’t live up to the potential. A movie fan has mixed emotions when one admits that Meryl Streep was miscast in a movie. Stranger things have happened in Hollywood. Not many, but some. Phillip Noyce was an odd choice for the director mainly because I cannot describe his style. The filmmaker needed to be more of a visionary artist to encompass the complexity of the source material. The Giver had some cool moments but was overall bland. I did like the slow transition from black and white to color. It was creatively done challenge that was pulled off.
Interestingly enough, The Giver has built a conservative following. A neglected segmented audiences on par with women, minorities, conservatives don’t have a lot of choices from liberal Hollywood who shy away from their values. Part of the justification for the support comes from Walden Media which makes faith based products. The other nerve The Giver struck is the uneasiness with societal tension with the desire to make things peaceful. Over regulating society’s problems is a solution to this issue. Conservatives leery of government intrusion see a lot of modern day issues explored. These are issues uncomfortable with many people yet always mentioned in the context of science fiction.
Even though the movie didn’t quite work for me, I was fully engaged. I wished The Giver had a larger budget and a longer running time. The iconic book deserved so much better. And the audience was eager to see it. They had been waiting for a long time. Judging from the audience on opening night, the crowd felt like Hunger Games for the Weinstein fan base; older, well-read adults. Though the conservative following made from a rather progressive studio almost makes this the movie for no one. There were around five people under the age of 18 in an audience of at least 70 people. With the lush cinematography and captivating, timely themes, The Giver failed to meet my expectations of bringing the novel to the big screen, yet it managed to be decent movie.
I rate The Giver a generous 6 out of 10.