THE GIVER – A Review by John Strange

the giver - movie-review-the-giver
By: John ’Doc’ Strange
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Cameron Monaghan, Odeya Rush, Emma Tremblay
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence)
Selig Rating: FULL PRICE
Runtime: 94 Min.
In 1993, Lois Lowry had a novel published called The Giver, telling the story of a utopian society separated from the rest of the world by the Boundary and devoid of emotions.  The inhabitants of this climate controlled world have their lives controlled from birth to death.  They begin each day with an injection that blocks their emotions.
Teens, upon the completion of their schooling, are presented with the jobs they will perform for the rest of their lives during a ceremony celebrating each age group’s ascension to the next stage of life.  Attending the ceremony are three teens who are excited to see what professions the elders have selected for them.
Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), Fiona (Odeya Rush), and Asher (Cameron Monaghan) have grown up together and are the best of friends.  The only one of the trio who is sure of her future is Fiona.  She is pretty sure she will work with Jonas’ father (Alexander Skarsgård) as a Nurturer.
The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) calls out each teen by their number in the line and informs them (and everyone in the auditorium) of their future profession.  As expected, Fiona is to be a Nurturer.  Asher will be a Drone Pilot.  But standing on the stage at the end of the ceremony is Jonas, still waiting to hear about his future.
Jonas is to be the next Giver, the people’s keeper of memories.  When the decision was made to take away everyone’s emotions, it was decided that someone must retain the people’s memories to allow them to advise the elders as needed.
Jonas is to learn from the current Giver (Jeff Bridges).  He is told he can never tell anyone what he is learning.  Unlike the rest of the population, he is released from the requirement to always tell the truth.  The lessons are eye-opening and disturbing at the same time.  He sees the memories, no, more correctly, he relives the memories, such as sliding down a snow covered mountain on a sled or experiencing the colors of a sunset.
Jonas figures out how to bypass his daily anti-emotion shot.  Slowly, Jonas sees the colors of the world as he begins to feel the emotions attached to the memories.  He tries to make his friends see what he does.  His actions do not escape the notice of the authorities.  Soon he is pursued by everyone including his mother (Katie Holmes) who just happens to be something like the chief law enforcer.
The story is a full-bodied tale of love in a black-and-white world devoid of emotions.  The performances from Bridges, Streep, and all of the rest are amazing.  Watching these talented people portray their characters without allowing emotions to color their actions is breathtaking.  A special pleasure was listening to Taylor Swift play the piano in her role as Rosemary.
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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