The Giver: Review


Yet another film adaptation of a popular young adult novel, I had little to no expectations for The Giver but found myself surprisingly entertained by it.

Set in a utopian society, years after an event simply called ‘the ruin’, people live a peaceful and well controlled existence. There’s a constant turnover of citizens, the old ‘retiring to elsewhere’ just as a new group of babies are born, and young adults graduate to tailor made roles chosen by a group of elders.

There’s no racisim, no war and everybody is treated equally due to daily injections that numb emotions. Newly graduated Jonas is given the much honoured and extremely rare role of the receiver; an advisor to the elders who has access to the otherwise well hidden history of the world.

As Jonas begins his training and learns about life before the ruin, he begins to discover the sinister side of his community and sets out to free society from their state controlled rule.

There’s great detail involved in The Giver. A fully-formed universe with many well constructed ideas, it’s more than teen fiction and actually succeeds as a compelling piece of sci-fi.

Whilst certain aspects of the story have gaping holes and aren’t explained thoroughly, there’s still plenty of big ideas present that make it a worthwhile watch. It takes some brave and dark turns, which I found admirable, especially concerning the way in which population is controlled and the weak are separated from the strong in a Hitler-type solution.

Having said this, there’s not much in the way of action or excitement, and I think for that reason it won’t do particularly well commercially or critically. Rather than big set pieces, we’re given a story that’s actually an exploration of life and all of the pain and love that comes with it.

Stock footage of war, conflict, weddings and childhood is used to touching effect and perhaps I’ve become overly sentimental, but these scenes particularly resonated with me.

As well as utilising real footage, there’s a great use of colour in the film. What starts out as a black and white world gradually becomes colourful as emotions start infiltrating the idealistic world, not in a Sin City type way but in a subtle way that manages to be very eye catching.

In terms of performances, the younger cast are outshone and overshadowed by the likes of Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, who are great in their respective roles and class the whole affair up.

Not exactly the next big franchise and frustratingly open-ended, The Giver isn’t without fault. However, as far as sci-fi and teen fiction goes, it is strangely life affirming and amongst one of the most engrossing I’ve seen in some time.

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