After The Ruin, a civil but colorless, drug-dampened, equalitarian society eschewing memories of the past emerged, where everyone followed established rules of politeness enforced by a council of ever-watchful Elders. On the ceremonious day of graduation, teenagers leaving childhood are assigned careers chosen by the Elders. Jonas, who feels different from his appointed parents and his two best friends, Fiona and Asher, finds himself assigned to the rare position of Receiver of Memories, trained by a mentor (later called The Giver), who telepathically imparts memories of the world before The Ruin. Jonas learns emotions such as love, fear, excitement, loss and the concept of family, but when the planned elimination of a baby named Gabriel, whom he comes to love as a brother, enters his awareness, Jonas decides society needs to change, which the Chief Elder will do anything to stop.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil/revised by statmanjeff
When Jonas and the Giver walk home from their first meeting, they pass by some people assembling a tree. From this point on, the shot is flopped (Giver on Jonas' right, and the brake lever and swing arm of the front wheel fork of the bike on the left side). The image stays mirrored until they separate, when Jonas asks about the one before him. See more »
From the ashes of The Ruin, the Communities were built. Protected by the Boundary. All memories of the past were erased.
After The Ruin we started over, creating a new society, one of true equality. Rules were the building blocks of that equality. We learned them as Newchildren. Rules like: use precise language, wear your assigned clothing, take your morning medication, obey the curfew, never lie.
My name is Jonas. I don't have a last name. None of us did. That day, the day before ...
[...] See more »
The most obvious and cynical theory to come up with the existence of The Giver movie is the success of futuristic YA movies such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. Though, The Giver was never meant to be a YA book in the first place, and it's already a two decades old book that has been going through some controversies in the past. This movie is proof that Hollywood is just picking books randomly and turn them into movies to match the trend. The important question is does it stay true to what makes the story so great? Apparently not. Not because it's now starred with teenagers instead of twelve year olds, or it consists more action scenes. The film just hardly cares about the concept and gives more way to the corny clichés of the genre. The Giver does have a taste for a blockbuster, but the heart of the story is missing and that is definitely frustrating.
The film introduces the story in the most typical way possible, which has the hero doing voice-over narration for the audience. It doesn't trust the concept either, so it has to immediately push the story to the familiar elements of the genre. This is not a new case, of course. Many young-adult novels with better narrative have been manipulated by formula. But the story itself isn't about a revolution or a love story, its main center is to rediscover the old natural world, no matter how beautiful and ugly it was, and contrast it to the new rigorous society that is peaceful yet terrifyingly naive. The relationship of Jonas with the Giver and unraveling through sociopolitical conspiracies is what makes it engaging, but again the movie doesn't have the love for that. Instead it uses its length more on the visuals where the director can do what he does best, which is to pull off some set pieces and grand designs. Unfortunately those parts don't do much to the story, it's nothing more than an exposition that is meant build up a thrilling climax that isn't and never meant to be thrilling at all. And to stay faithful to the source material's larger theme, during the chase at the last act, one of the characters ends up preaching out a sheer sentimental speech to the elders that feels terribly forced.
How it created the communities looked cool though, with production and special effects that gives a spectacular sense of scale, and how the black-and-white world grow into colors is a fascinating watch, but I think those are the only things the filmmakers wanted to bring to life. Designing it as an action blockbuster doesn't necessarily sound like a bad idea, but skimming out the soul that made the story compelling is what tones everything down into another generic fantasy film. The acting is okay, as usual. Brenton Thwaites does have the looks of a hero, but he only leaves a few personality to the role, the most conspicuous one is the kid's curiosity. A more natural fit is Jeff Bridges who gives the gravity that should have been there throughout the film.
The Giver may have the external vision; the events, culture, characters, and language stayed intact; but again, everything else suffers the same problem. The rich world it already provides is no more than a cool design, while replacing the unique narrative with clichés. And it's not good at one of its clichés either, the additional more focused romantic subplot is as underdeveloped as the others out there. There just isn't much love to the subtext, the movie is basically just fitting in to the era of young adult novels with bad politics and rebellion; but again and again the story is never about them. It's neither about the love story or the teen angst. Whatever point it tries to say, it would only lie at the idea, and the movie didn't spend much time to that. There is some interesting visuals to spare, but what's left here is just another bland teen fantasy movie.
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