Hello movie lovers! This week we’re going to be talking about “The Giver,” directed by Philip Noyce.
I was very excited to hear that Noyce was directing this movie, as he has proven himself a very intelligent and daring director with films such as “Patriot Games,” “Clear and Present Danger,” and “Salt.” Based on that body of work, I was expecting a thought-provoking science fiction thriller based on the source material by Lois Lowry. I was (for the most part) disappointed.
Now, I must preface this by saying that I have not had the privilege to read the book. Before those who have read the book jump down my throat, I will point this out: books and movies are two different forms of media. This is a review of the film as a stand-alone work of art, not about how true it was to the novel that inspired it.
Summed up, the movie deals with a seemingly utopian future in which everyone is assigned to his or her role in society to maintain order. One young man, Jonas, is selected to receive memories from the old world so that he may provide guidance in the future. During his training, he realizes the world he’s living in ultimately does more harm than good and attempts to shatter the illusion to save humanity.
My main problem with the movie was that it did not have an effective portrayal of its central issue: people not expressing emotion.
This boils down mostly to the acting, particularly by the younger actors in the film. In their attempt to not show emotion in their characters, they came off as flat and uninteresting.
I was later told that the young lead, Brenton Thwaites, had not had much experience as an actor. I had no difficulty believing it. His portrayal, along with those of his co-stars, made the scenes they were in ultimately boring, and the message of the film was lost.
There were highlights, however. The performances by Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep were electrifying and their scenes together showcased two of the finest talents working in Hollywood today.
Also noteworthy was the clever cinematography, seamlessly transitioning from black and white to full color. These few gems were enough to make up for the aforementioned wooden acting, as well as several action scenes that (according to those who have read the book) were added for a few cheap thrills.
On a scale of one to 10, I would rate “The Giver” about a five. It’s not unwatchable, but based on how highly I’ve heard the novel praised, it was nowhere near as wonderful as it could have been.