Recently the trend of young-adult-novels-transformed-into-blockbuster-hits has spread like wildfire. “The Giver,” based on the book by Lois Lowry, is a blockbuster hit, although it does not have the same effect or following of its predecessors. Written nearly 18 years ago, the book was a national bestseller and a popular read for many schools across the nation. The premise of the story takes place in a utopian society, a world of perfection and “sameness.” While the movie captures the essence and the message of the story very clearly, it will not attract millions of fans like “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games.” The story includes many ethical questions and a quest for justice and love, but it lacks the depth and time to answer all of these questions. Personally, I enjoyed the movie and I would definitely see it again. Phillip Noyce’s directorial style was very interesting and captured my attention right away. The star-studded cast included Meryl Streep as Chief Elder, Jeff Bridges as The Giver, Katie Holmes as Jonas’ mother and Brenton Thwaites as Jonas.
When Jonas turned 18, he was given the job of receiving others’ memories. Jonas always felt different in the perfect community he lived in, but he never said anything. He accepted everything at face value and did not question why things were the way they were. When he met The Giver, Jonas experienced a whole side of the world he had never seen or felt before. Jonas experienced memories of war, pain, happiness and most importantly, love. When Jonas realized the inhumanity and secrets of the elders and the community, he knew he had to do something to restore the memories. Here began his journey with The Giver to restore balance within the world. It was the Receiver’s job to hold all of the memories of history and advise the elders on matters of right and wrong. The Receiver knew what it was like to feel pain, hurt, starvation and even death: they held the intricate balance of the community. Jonas and The Giver knew the burden was too large to keep between them, so they decided to set it free.
I would give this movie 3.5 stars out of 5. It was directed very well and the script was great, but I wish they would have expanded it more and included more of the book. The key events like the apple scene and Jonas’ realization of love were kept in the film, but there were some scenes that did not make the cut. The acting by veterans like Streep, Bridges and Holmes was on par as usual, and I was also pleasantly surprised by Thwaites and his co-star Odeya Rush, who played Fiona. Even though they are young, they kept up with the veteran actors. There was no imbalance of skill and talent even with the mixed bag. Holmes and Streep did an amazing job playing antagonist roles and the tension between Streep and Bridges was phenomenal. Streep makes you want to hate her and question her every move, and Bridges transcends the role of the Protector and Giver to new limits. They play their characters off of each other so well.
Although this is not the next blockbuster phenomenon starting worldwide trends and a new base of fans, it is still an enjoyable movie to see with friends. It is not an action, thriller or suspenseful movie; it is purely a mystery. It gives a new and literal meaning to grass being greener on the other side. You will learn how to experience emotions all over again and maybe even shed a tear or two.