Movie Review: The Giver

the giver poster

The Giver a book so popular kids are happy to be assigned it in school has been turned into a movie. Having never read the book (I was out of school by the time it was released) I’ve never had the chance to have a teacher assign it, my daughter was not in the group who got assigned it either so I saw with movie without the context of the book. I still plan of grabbing a copy for both of us to read.

The Giver makes a few important changes from the book the biggest being that they aged up all the characters. Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is 18 while in the book he is 12. Considering the strong romantic feelings in this book aging up makes a lot of sense. If you haven’t read the book, Jonas is an 18 year old boy who lives in a Utopian society. There is no color, no diversity, no sadness but also no overwhelming happiness. Everything is just so a tempered median. Children are assigned to parents after being raised in a nurturing center. Everyone is given a job that they will keep for the remainder of their days. There is a Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) all citizens take a daily injection which regulates emotion. Jonas lives with his parents who he was also assigned to (Alexander Skarsgård) and (Katie Holmes) he also has a younger sister who’s 9. He has spent his entire childhood closely attached to his 2 best friends Fiona (Odeya Rush) and Asher (Cameron Monaghan) each thinks they have a path in life but Jonas doesn’t He periodically things he can see unexplainable things. When graduation day comes and job assignments are given he is chosen as the receiver of memories. This is a specially selected job that only has 1 person. After receiving his new clothes and instructions he ventures to the edge where the current Receiver (Jeff Bridges) lives. He begins to learn that what he’s missing are some wonderful things like snow, colors, music and love. The old Receiver becomes The Giver.

The giver and the reciever

Weinstein Company

Of course he also learns about the bad things, war poverty and loss. He also finds out about the previous Receiver who after receiving a memory of loss quits. Society is told to never speak of what happened to the previous receiver Rosemary (Taylor Swift) from 10 years ago but it greatly the Giver. Jonas starts to truly question his role in society as well as what everyone is not told when his father brings home a baby Gabriel who has not caught up to the other babies. Jonas bonds with Gabriel in a way and he feels something no one in his society is supposed to feel, love. The rest of the film focuses on what happens when Jonas learns that his colony is carrying out terrible things without the knowledge of its citizens.

Jonas and Gabriel The Giver

Weinstein Company

Since I didn’t have the book to compare it to and was only vaguely familiar with the story, I can say as a stand alone vehicle its holds up quite well. The pace is a little quick as they try to condense all that is happening in what seems like 8 months or so. There’s some plotholes, nothing too huge but overall its a good film with a solid cast and compelling story.

My Rating: Full Price
Director: Phillip Noyce
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: August 15, 2014
Run time: 97 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13