The Giver – 2014

Director Phillip Noyce
Starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Cameron Monaghan, Odeya Rush, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift
Screenplay Michael Mitnick, Robert B. Weide based on the book by Lois Lowry

The Giver is one of the original modern teen dystopian tales, where a society has been created from the ruins of the old one. This time, many of the elements deemed distasteful from the old one have been purged from the current one. One of these elements is any type of color, another is the use of non-specific language, like the word “love.”

Into this environment, 3 kids are about to graduate to adulthood. One of them (Rush) is a nurturer. Another (Monaghan) is going to become a helicopter surveillance flyer. Jonas, (Thwaites) is going to become a past Receiver. He will be receiving this knowledge from one called a Giver (Bridges). What’s being passed between the two are memories from the old world. Why is this necessary? It really shouldn’t be, if they wanted to divorce themselves from the past, as all of their other actions would have us believe. How else, though, do we move from the status quo to “something’s not right here?”

The story and the action are both pretty tame. There is some stuff here about killing babies, but other than this, there is no sense of anything beyond mild concern. Phillip Noyce directed two very intense films in the Jack Ryan series. He’s directed a lot of muted stuff ever since.

Jeff Bridges is one of the producers of this film, but his effect here is impeded by a serious case of the mumbles. He sounds like he has marbles in his mouth, and his dialogue requires the use of subtitles. Meryl Streep is mainly that old woman that doesn’t want you to touch anything in her sterile house. I wouldn’t want to, trust me.

This story reminded me a bit of Pleasantville meets The Village. The book precedes them both, so I suppose the comparison is coincidental. Personally, I am not impressed with any of the three stories.

(** out of *****)

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