Loosely based on Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel of same name, The Giver is another addition to the current trend of movies portraying utopian societies inhabited by a controlled population. Home and Away alumni, Cairns born Brenton Thwaites (Oculus, Maleficent, The Signal) stars in the leading role as Jonas, along side the legendary, Academy Award winner, Jeff Bridges (True Grit, Tron Legacy, and over 70 other movies during a career he began at only 2 years old!), who also co-produces the movie.
It is 2048. After a war, an exclusively Caucasian mountain top ‘Community’ was established in an attempt to be rid of the evil that men do. With no memory of the past, the citizens are ‘dosed’ daily, effectively repressing all emotion, while conceding irrefutable compliance to the laws of their society. While this may offer a congenial and safe existence, the very essence of life itself is missing. But how can we miss that which we have never known to have existed. During a coming of age ritual, Jonas is bestowed with the honour of becoming the next ‘Receiver of Memory’. As apprentice to ‘The Giver’ (Jeff Bridges), the Receiver of Memory is progressively shown memories of the past with a view to one day, espouse the role as The Giver, and advisor to the Elders on decisions for the community. Ceasing his daily doses, inevitably, Jonas becomes emotional to his new learnings and slowly begins to ‘feel’ what others cannot. This is initially evident by his ability to see colour where previously only seeing shades of grey (a side effect from the dosing). His struggle with his emotions consumes Jonas causing him to doubt his ability to continue with his training. This leads him to question the intentions of the Elders, and in turn, the entire existence of the community. Once Jonas learns how the community is able to maintain it’s population, his emotions escalate and take him to an end that will change the community for better, or worse.
Jeff Bridges is fantastic in most of the movies he stars in, and The Giver is no exception. With an all-star cast including the likes of Hollywood superstar, and three-time Academy Award winner, Meryl Streep (The Deer Hunter, The Devil Wears Prada and a list of over 50 movies), as The Chief Elder; Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood, Disconnect, Battleship), as Jonas’s father; Katie Holmes (Go, Batman Begins, The Son of No One), as Jonas’s mother; Taylor Swift (Valentines Day, Hannah Montana: The Movie), as Rosemary, The Giver’s daughter; and little known Odeya Rush (We Are What We Are, The Odd Life of Timothy Green), as Jonas’s friend and love interest, Fiona, The Giver adopts a range of actors spanning all generations.
Directed by one of Australia’s most successful, respected and prolific film directors, Phillip Noyce (Salt, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Dead Calm), The Giver reminded me of several movies that follow a similar theme. If you enjoy The Giver, I recommend watching Logan’s Run, Equilibrium (a movie in my top ten favourite movies of all time), The Island and The Hunger Games.
While the black and white visual is initially distracting, and almost a curtain closer for some movies, it works for The Giver as the subtle, gradual introduction of colour throughout is intriguing. Schindler’s List, Rumble Fish, Pleasantville and Sin City all adopt this unusual and wonderfully artistic style, and by all accounts, like The Giver, use it well.
Look out for Brenton’s new movie, Son of a Gun. He looks to be Australia’s next big name in Hollywood!
The Movie Lad rates this: A big bag of Skittles to add some colour.