By Darin Skaggs
Sometimes you watch a film and wonder “Why was this film made?” You wonder whose idea this was and who greenlit the film. These questions all apply to Philip Noyce’s The Giver. The Giver is based on a book from about twenty years ago, written by Lois Lowery. So, why make this now? It is clear this film was made because of the height of the ‘Young Adult books being made into film’ phase. Films like The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner are making money because they are based off of popular book series. The Giver is sort of the grandfather of these books and someone thought it would be a good money maker if they made this film while the coal is hot.
The story is quite interesting. There is this community that is very organized, which is all explained in the opening. They don’t really feel emotions, the way they talk is taught to them to lack in emotional related words. In a graduation type situation, the kids are given their future jobs. While they are getting their jobs our here, Jonas, is skipped. He soon finds out he is to be the new holder of all the communities memories. He then goes to meet The Giver, played by Jeff Bridges, who will give Jonas the memories. Jonas then learns all about life and death while his community stays in their planned, bland selves.
This film has an intriguing story that could be filed with a ton of metaphors and views on the human existence. Sadly, none of the themes are explored to their full potential, if at all. The film does its best to copy the styles of the other films based on the Young Adult books. There are the friends that start care free but then the conflict happens, but their friendship last through it all. There are celebrities in the film whose character may not be that important but they got they actor, they are going to use them. The example here being Meryl Streep’s character.
The film does some interesting things like the community only sees in black and white so when Jonas receives these memories he slowly starts to see in color. The memory montages are fairly effective with a few images of a “too soon” quality and they don’t make much sense to the story.
The conflict of the film is a real missed opportunity. The Giver has a speech that works slightly because Jeff Bridges is reciting it. There is a close call moment aspect to the finale that is overused in most suspenseful moments in movies. There is a nice bookend moment but it is too confusing with the journey to get there. The Giver is a pretty big disappointment. It is an okay watch, but nothing near life changing.