Directed By: Phillip Noyce
Screenplay By: Michael Mitnick & Robert B. Weide
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush & Cameron Monaghan
Based on the book by Lois Lowry, The Giver is the latest film on the based on teen fiction bandwagon. The movie takes place in a ‘Utopian’ society where anything that sets a person apart is removed, to encourage a community free of strife (including emotion and color). Teens that are of age to start training in their vocation, chosen by the panel of elders, are brought in front of the community to be assigned by the Chief Elder; played by Meryl Streep. The story follows Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), who fits into a special category reserved for only one member of society called The Receiver. The position entails receiving all the memories of mankind that came before, including war, murder, joy, love, sadness and strife, so that he can advise the elders on the rare case of conflict arising. Passing the memories along to him is The Giver, played by Jeff Bridges. The film/book draws from many scifi movies and novels that came before it, most prominently Brave New World by Aldous Huxley & the 1976 flick Logan’s Run. The film differs from the book by making the story less ambiguous, creating a hero out of Jonas, and making the character of The Giver more likable. The actual events of the book would be difficult to convey on screen, and less satisfying to the average viewer, though removing elements from the book also removed any true originality from the story.
Watching the movie, I found that the changes were acceptable, but the dialogue was not. From beginning to end, conversations between characters were near painful to listen to. This being a fault not in the book, but in the screenplay alone, since much of the dialogue had to be created for the movie. This made it hard to gauge acting, since even a stellar actor can do little to save bad dialogue. I give credit to the cast, that despite the poor script, no one seemed to phone it in. All of the actors seemed committed to their roles.
All the major studios are vying to create the next Twilight or Hunger Games, lucrative films that rake in the cash in both ticket sales and merchandise; from t-shirts to bedspreads. Book one in a trilogy, The Giver, missed the mark and has yet to recoup the cost of production, so sequels are unlikely.