The Giver (2014)
“Everything is connected. Everything is balance. Where there is good, there is bad.”
It al starts gray.
And that’s how “The Giver” begins. In slight nondescript gray tones. For those who just start watching this movie without knowing anything about it, here’s a warning. Don’t check the color settings of your TV. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a colorless society where all the survivors live after the big disaster, which they call “The Ruin”. It’s an unexplained global disaster that ensured that the earthlings now live in a sort of commune. A commune where everyone obediently gets their medication injected every morning, so that they are protected from all those obnoxious human traits which lead to catastrophes. This society also gives you an Orwellian feeling. At the slightest wrong move or contact, an almost ethereal voice begins to admonish you. And as certain irregularities may happen, even a holographic projection of one of the elderly could suddenly appear in the middle of your kitchen. A peaceful society where the inhabitants are pampered in the superlative and walk through life like meek lambs.
The Receiver lives in full color.
Memories are also erased, so no one can make an association with the old human values. The complete human history, up to the time of “The Ruin”, is unknown to all residents. Except for “The Receiver of Memories”. This chosen person has only one mission. And that’s to cherish all these memories and memorize them in case they are needed in certain circumstances.
Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is a carefree teenager who gets to hear during the “Release to elsewhere” ceremony, a ritual in which the teenagers of a certain age are assigned tasks that they will perform all their lives, that he’s assigned to this high function. And so he’s being taught by the former “Receiver” (Jeff Bridges) who hands over his former memories and feelings just by physical contact. And so the former “Receiver” automatically gets the function as “The Giver”. In this way Jonas experiences what it’s like to live in a colorful world. He witnesses pleasant feelings such as love, joy and happiness. And also human tragedies and the associated unpleasant feelings such as pain, loss and grief.
Yet another book adaptation.
“The Giver” is yet another adaptation of a book in which we are introduced to a dystopian world. We have seen this already in “Elysium“, “The Hunger Games” and recently “Divergent“. An unknown apocalypse recreated earth in an inhospitable place where the survivors have rallied in a kind of commune where new values and standards are introduced.
An emotionless society. Yeak!
Overall, I liked “The Giver“. It’s an enjoyable film and at some level even better than its predecessors. Brenton Thwaites plays the youthful innocence convincingly and the metamorphosis from a numb jaded person into a rebellious teen is beautifully executed. The general atmosphere and presentation of this future society was worked out beautifully. Even Jeff Bridges could fascinate me (more than in “R.I.P.D.“), although he sometimes sounded like a poorly lubricated lawnmower. The policies adopted in this seemingly conflict-free society and the way in which it was controlled, made me shiver with horror.
In principle, the elimination of all the listed characteristics, made sure that no one is better or feels more than any other. And the hunger for power is non-existent. But ultimately the elderly are still superior and define the guidelines in this commune. Who determines that all these people are being spied on and an intervention is needed when someone forgets to take his daily suppressive medication or looks with a lascivious glance at someone of the opposite sex? And even though feelings are suppressed, I found it a bit perplexing to see that birth control or the elimination of members of a multiple birth, after determining who is the strongest, was performed in such a cruel and inhumane way. Even the most callous and apathetic person realizes what he’s doing.
Too bad there’s no tension in it.
The biggest letdown was the lack or total absence of any tension. The tension is as flat and colorless as the images used in the run-up of the story. And of course there had to be a bit of romance in it. The strongest elements were the interaction between “The Receiver” and “The Giver.” Fascinating, full of character and original. But for me the biggest asset is the fact that we probably won’t get a series of consecutive episodes. As an isolated movie “The Giver” is anything but a bad movie. It only drowns in a tangle of similar dystopian films. The approach is original, but the overall picture isn’t. And probably the book is way better than the film.