“The Giver”: A movie in Review

The Giver (2014) Poster

Release Date: Friday August 15, 2014

Run time: 1 Hour, 34 Minutes

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic images and sci-fi action violence

Imagine a society where people did not remember war, racism and sadness. Picture a world where no one fought over social status or money because everyone owns the same things and lives in the same size house. Or, are the things that make humanity so self-destructive (lust, love, anger) the very emotions that make us human?  These are the questions that “The Giver” asks.

I’m a sucker for young adult novel adaptations (excluding Twilight…boooooo).  For fans of the genre, “The Giver” will hit a lot of familiar notes.  If one were not aware of the timeline, it might be tempting to accuse this movie of borrowing ideas from other source material.  For instance, as teenagers kids are assigned into their profession in a ceremony very reminiscent of “Divergent”.  The only thing is the source material for “The Giver”, a 1993 novel of the same name written by Lois Lowry, predates pretty much all of the movies that you might be tempted to say “The Giver” borrows from.

Even so, those works had the good fortune of making it to the big screen first and it is hard to watch “The Giver” without feeling like you’ve seen it before.  Movies like “Equilibrium” and “Pleasantville also explore a seemingly Utopian society that has thrown the good out with the bad with a hero who sees through it and must bring the rest of society to their senses.

Jeff Bridges plays the titular “Giver”, and although he is not the central character (that would be the “receiver of memories” played by Brenton Thwaites) he steals the show. This is a very personal project for Bridges, who has been trying to make this movie for 18 years, and it shows in his performance.  He originally intended to direct his father, who passed away in 1998, in the role that younger Bridges eventually took over.  Bridges plays the wise mentor well and is great to watch, as always.

Overall the movie is well cast and directed with a visual flair. Having not read the book (at least as far as I remember) I went in with no expectations and felt that it was reasonably thought provoking and enjoyable.

On my 1-10 scale with 1 being the worst, 5 being the best and 10 being the worst again, I give “The Giver” a 6.8942 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: verrry interesting.

8 thoughts on ““The Giver”: A movie in Review”

  1. Love this book and the rest of the books in the series (which in some ways are better). I enjoyed the movie, even with the usual liberties taken by movie studios, but you can definitely tell it, like the book, is for a younger audience, which I am fine with. It will be a good introduction to the genre when my kiddo gets older.

  2. I read this book several years ago. It had a few disturbing things like Jonas father “releasing” a twin baby. Also, from the movie synopsis they aged Jonas a few years. In the book he was 12-13.

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