The Giver

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Picture Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

The Giver is a 2014 film based on the novel of the same name. Normally when I see a new movie coming out that’s based on a book, my first reaction is that I need to read the book first. It’s no surprise that the book is always better than the film, but like most people I have an ever massing list of books to read and don’t always have time.

The Giver is a dystopian story about a utopian society. Certain things have been removed from society and monitored by specific administrations of drugs on a daily basis. There are different phases in each persons life that all revolve around equality and building a society together. One of the phases is when the young people in the society are given their chosen life fields that they will work in. Main character, Jonas, feels as if he has been overlooked until he is announced as the new Receiver of Memories in training. The Receiver holds all the memories, passed on from the current Receiver played by Jeff Bridges. The Receivers job is to hold the knowledge and the pain of the past to be able to advise those in charge based on the history of the societies before them. Once Jonas learns more of the history of the world, he begins to see things differently. The change has not gone unnoticed by the Chief Elder, played by Meryl Streep, and she fears that Jonas’ change could cause the end of their utopian society.

The Giver has a very Pleasantville vibe with a dystopian twist. Much of the film is in black and white until Jonas begins to see the truth in the world. Even then it comes in glances. What seems to be the full color seems muted at best.

The film stars some other well known actors and actresses and even welcomes a music star to the screen. Taylor Swift plays Rosemary, the Receivers daughter from the past. Even I must admit I had not looked into the film enough to know it was her. There is a longer scene where her face is more noticeable, but I had been experiencing my first ever panic attack (which is a story for another time and place). Other familiar faces are Katie Holmes and Alexander Skysgard.

I’m not quite sure what my deciding factor was for wanting to see this film. I had not even seen a full preview before going. I’m pretty sure the knowledge that it was a book turned film was enough for me. The concept did not seem all too unique or new. The film passed quickly enough but failed to give enough to make it more memorable. The Giver could have easily cut a few big names and turned it into a made for tv film and saved the trouble. I am thankful that I did see the movie as it saved me the time of having also to read the book (which I no longer feel the need to do).

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