The Giver was one of the few books I actually enjoyed reading in grade school. There was something about that futuristic and mysterious land, where one chosen individual held all of the world’s memories, that captivated me. There was something about this dull movie that did not. Throughout the film, nearly all of the characters act like mindless drones, resulting in an emotionless and, needless to say, boring film.
Phillip Noyce’s The Giver, based on the book by Lois Lowry, depicts a community run by the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) without pain, color, or any real emotion. At 18, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites, Maleficent) is chosen to be the Receiver of Memories. A man called The Giver (Jeff Bridges) has to transmit memories to Jonas, such as war, music, and love, so that someone in the community will have a knowledge of things from the past. During the transmission process, Jonas physically experiences each memory and eventually becomes aware of what the community is taking away from its members. He decides to rebel and is then confronted with difficult choices about his own life and the future.
All the members of the community act and speak in similar ways. They never fight or hurt one another, and when someone makes a mistake, he says, “I apologize,” to which his addressee always replies, “I accept your apology.” Due to this lack of individuality, the actors cannot truly embody their characters (unless they were all supposed to play the role of the civil zombie). Bridges is the only actor who is able to throw a little spunk into the dialogue, because all the other characters have no emotions or back-stories, making every conversation without The Giver utterly tedious.
To the director’s credit, the set of the movie was actually somewhat interesting. Even though the film is black and white, the community is designed very systematically and is captivating even without color. Luckily, the one redeeming light of this adaptation, the rather intricately designed scenery, drew my attention away from the lack of acting.
Unfortunately, the film adaptation of The Giver still loses the mystery and intrigue that the book holds so well. The dull conversations and emotionless acting far outweighed the above-average scenery, placing this film on the massive list of movies you should skip and just read the book.