By CYNTHIA BIDDLECOMB
“The Giver” is another young adult novel turned to film that presents a dystopian vision of the future. And like the others we’ve seen in recent years—“Hunger Games,” “Divergent”—it succeeds in making me want to read the book after seeing the film.
From much younger friends, I have heard that the film doesn’t do the book justice. But that is usually the case in movies that have to tell the fullness of a story in less than two hours. Nonetheless, the images and characters in the film will give visuals to the words I will read when I do buy the book. All is not lost, book lovers!
Movie Poster for ‘The Giver.’ Courtesy/Reel Deal Theater
In “The Giver,” young people, at age 18, are assigned their future role in the community. Unlike “Divergent,” the young person’s gifts have been closely monitored in preparation for the assignment and the individual has no choice in the matter, presumably because the careers so closely match their skills.
Jonas and his friends Fiona and Asher, who grew up side by side in their rule-bound society, are 18. Their lives have been without pain, war, differences or choice, because of the “Sameness Policy,” which levels everyone and everything.
Our first clue that all is not right in this world is that everything is black and white. Then we notice that drones follow and listen in on conversations, ostensibly so the Elders can make wise decisions. “New children” are cared for by “Nurturers” until they can be placed with parents. Daily automated injections, protecting health with dietary supplements, turn out also to tame human emotions and urges. No one seems the wiser.
When each of the 18 year olds is assigned to a career, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is skipped over. The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) comes back to Jonas at the end, announcing that he will be the Memory Receiver. It is exceedingly rare that one is chosen for this role, but it is based on his or her ability to see things differently.
So Jonas goes off to meet the last Memory Receiver, who is now passing on society’s corporate memory to Jonas, making him The Giver (Jeff Bridges). Through touch, he passes his memories to Jonas, who experiences all the beauty, color, emotion and depth of human experience that led the Elders to end war and suffering by designing this controlled society. As Jonas’ eyes are opened, he can no longer tolerate the world as it is. Of course, it becomes his mission to change it.
The film is entertaining, if disappointing for those who loved the book. The “utopian” concepts of this society might keep you intrigued. (Where do the babies come from, anyway?) Rated PG-13, much younger children might not grasp the concept of the film, or they might be disturbed by occasional violent images.