“The Giver” is a beloved book and its film adaptation is a blue chip production. It has very distinguished, well known, Australian director, Phillip Noyce, at the helm of the big budget production. It also stars Jeff Bridges, who shepherded this project from the beginning because he loved the novel so much when it came out.
Jeff Bridges plays The Giver and Meryl Streep plays the chief Elder, leading this ‘society of the future.’ The cast also includes Katie Holmes, as well as Taylor Swift who is fine in her dramatic debut, but she’s only in the film for a few minutes.
In “The Giver,” the characters have rebuilt their society of the future after a terrible event called The Ruin. It has all of these ‘Brave New World-ish’ assumptions that in order to have a peaceful society we have to eliminate all difference. One person has a memory of the way things used to be: Jeff Bridge’s character, The Giver.
It’s The Giver’s job to transmit these memories to younger the character, Jonas, who is going to carry on his memories, somehow.
But none of this is portrayed on screen in a convincing way.
Readers of the book know that a big part of the story is that color has been leached out of world and things are in black and white. As Jonas receives memories, including memories of color, you see more of the film in color.
But as a result of that theme, what you end up with is “The Wizard of Oz” on acid. Here you go from black and white to partial color, and back to black and white, to more partial color, and none of it adds up it. It’s deeply distracting and headache-inducing.
The film’s downfall was really the script. It’s a tough novel to adapt. The acting is basically fine but the actors they have playing the young characters, Jonas and Fiona, are so bland, they’re basically invisible.
I was deeply disappointed in the film and I find it hard to imagine someone who would enjoy this movie. It’s a lame adaptation, partially because in a novel you can create a dystopian future.
It’s one of those things, where if you isolate the various parts of the movie, none of it is outright incompetent – it just doesn’t add up a satisfying cinematic experience.