Lois Lowry’s The Giver was published 21 years ago and has taken almost that long to be brought to the big screen. Directed by Phillip Noyce, he delivers a good, solid adaptation.
The story revolves around a colorless community where Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), turning 16 years old, is about to receive his job assignment. Jonas is assigned receiver of memory, a rare job he has not heard of. As the receiver of memory, he will hold all the memories of the world and the emotions that go along with them, all of which are not part of the society he lives in. The Giver (Jeff Bridges) prepares Jonas for the position. As he shares the memories of how things used to be, Jonas begins to see his world is not the perfect Utopia he had always thought it was.
The movie itself is very subdued. It’s not an action packed thrill ride. Of course the book is very introspective with no action in sight. The movie seems to expand on the world Lois Lowry created. The spirit of the book and the themes people love are still there, but of course changes had to be made when adapting it for the screen. One of the reasons for the changes is because the book is very introspective, so it’s hard when adapting it to not come across as boring on film. So in my opinion, the changes were necessary. I actually thought the changes enhanced the story and made it better. One of the changes that I did enjoy was that characters that have a very small part in the book are more developed for the film.
Jeff Bridges’ portrayal of The Giver is one of the best things about the movie. He is very charming in his role and has great comedic timing. Now this movie is not a comedy by any means, but the few laughable moments in the film revolved around Jeff Bridges. I thought Brenton Thwaites portrays Jonas well. He was definitely able to convey feeling certain emotions for the first time and experiencing new memories. I also felt his frustration as he evolves while those around him continue as they were.
The film really focuses on the relationship between Jonas and The Giver. Thankfully the scenes between Thwaites and Bridges really shine. The two are the perfect pair and they really have great chemistry working opposite each other. Meryl Streep’s performance as the Chief Elder brings a complexity to the character that was not there in the book. Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard as Mother and Father give convincing performances with chilling indifference.
I thought the visual effects were beautiful. I really liked the use of color and black and white in the film. With the whole community in black and white, you really can feel the sameness and cold environment these people live in. Interspersing color as Jonas experiences new memories bring vibrancy to the film and makes for a nice contrast. The Giver’s home is also a great set piece in the film. It’s located on the edge of their world and the view is just breathtaking. The memory scenes I felt were wonderfully done. I really liked the footage they used for some of the memories.
Overall, the movie is an entertaining adaptation of a beloved book. I definitely suggest checking it out for yourself!