BY: MARIA DE LA TORRE
For the many who have read the book, the idea of a movie being made from Lois Lowry’s The Giver is anything less than thrilling. Fortunately, the movie does not deviate too much from the actual plot of the book. The Phillip Noyce film under the same name cast Meryl Streep as an icy Chief Elder, Jeff Bridges as the Giver, Katie Holmes as Mother, Alexander Skarsgård as Father, and Taylor Swift as Rosemary.
Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, is appointed as the Receiver of Memories within his community for his ability to “see beyond”, and as his training with the Giver commences and their relationship evolves, he becomes a threat to the community.
The film does a decent job in demonstrating the difference between what Jonas is able to see versus the lackluster portrayal of the world the people in the community see by switching between a black and white to a colored scenery.
Like the book, the Community is first seen as the perfect utopian society lacking war, greed, envy, deceit, hunger, but the movie quickly dissolves that image and the perfect dystopian society is revealed as the actual story line is a bit rushed. Jonas’ training reveals to him a side of society that has been “stolen” from his community where there is no love, no empathy, no sympathy, and emotions are something that can be described in monotonous family conversations where the “precision of language” is needed to describe something as simple and multidimensional as “love”.
The word “release” is tossed about as something worthwhile as retirement, but in reality, it is only a synonym for death. Jonas is showed a video of his father “releasing” a baby for being underweight. In this community, twins cannot coexist and the fragile baby is given a lethal injection. Jonas is horrified at his father’s lack of emotions, and it is this lack of emotions with in his community that prompts him to rebel.
Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges are incredibly great actors who do well, even with the poorly written script. Streep does a near perfect job devoting her portrayal of the icy, stiff Chief Elder. Like the strict and conformist leader she is, Chief Elder refuses to acknowledge the release of her daughter, Rosemary, who was once of receiver. Bridges’ portrayal of The Giver is emotional, passionate and as the only man conscientious of his community’s troubles. He provides a pretty disturbed Giver.
Unlike the book, a romance between Jonas and Fiona is scripted into the movie; it serves as a plot twist that becomes central to his escape from authority. Fiona helps Jonas and even defies authority in order to allow him to escape with Gabriel, a baby that is to be released, in his arms.
Overall, the film proved to be very disappointing and although it did have great actors, the stiffness of the fictional community seemed to permeate the performance of the actors.