Saturday, August 16, 2014

'The Giver,' A Haunting Look At The Future

Jeff Bridges and Brenton Thwaites 

By Darlene Donloe

The Giver, directed by Phillip Noyce, is a sci-fi/drama about a post-apocalyptic world that is conformed, colorless and devoid of emotion. There is no war, no sickness, no prejudice, essentially no culture.  It would seem there are also very few ethnic groups. The world is predominantly white.

There was a time when all of those elements (war, sickness, etc.) existed, but it was done away with because people were unable to make good choices. 

There is now a system called Sameness.

The Giver, who is an actual person, is the sole keeper of the community’s memories. He and he alone remembers a time when they felt pain, anger, disappointment, but most of all love.

The one thing I never really figured out about the film or the book is, if you don’t want anyone to go against the grain, why is there a need for someone like The Giver? If you don’t want anyone to know how things were before the world changed, then don’t have anyone called The Giver, who holds all of the secrets.

The Giver is based on Lois Lowry’s best-selling 1993 Young Adult novel, which was the winner of the 1994 Newberry Medal.

So, here is the story.

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, 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, a kind of coming of age story, is slow and plodding. However, the story, which is a bit like Hunger Games and Pleasantville is intriguing.

The always good and believable Jeff Bridges, who also produces, plays The Giver, a man who because of personal circumstances has a bone to pick with the establishment. When it’s time to pass on the baton, The Giver meets 16-year-old Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) things begin to change. 

Jonas has his own ideas much to the chagrin of his parents played by Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes. He knows something is missing, but he’s not sure what. He knows there is something beyond his world, something beyond the boundaries.

Once he gets a taste of the truth, Jonas decides he can no longer live the Sameness way. He wants to see what is over the rainbow.

Meryl Streep is in a surprising role. She plays a stoic Chief Elder who is determined to keep the status quo running smoothly. There is no room for originality or individualism.

The movie also stars Odeya Rush and Taylor Swift.

The Giver is Rated PG-13. Running time: 1h 40m

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), The Giver gets an L (likeable).

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