Movie Review: The Giver

Before you even ask: yes, I've read The Giver, but it was a while ago, probably in elementary or middle school; it's standard on most curriculums. The book was written 20+ years ago by Lois Lowry, and I'd classify it as dystopian, which is now extremely popular, so I'm guessing that's why it was now made into a movie. The film moves effortlessly between black and white to color scenes, and it's definitely unique compared to other dystopian films I have seen.

Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in a world without color - though he doesn't even know what color is - and without emotions. His world also has no war and no conflict, and everyone lives peacefully in the community, which is led by a board of Elders. Jonas has just turned eighteen, which means his childhood is over and he will be assigned a work assignment. He's given an unusual job, however: he will be the new Receiver of Memory, and will be trained by the current Receiver (Jeff Bridges), who asks him to now call him The Giver. Once Jonas's training begins, he starts to realize how limited his worldview is, and he wants to change it as well as the view of the others in the community, specifically his friend Fiona (Odeya Rush), with whom he starts to fall in love.

I haven't seen Thwaites in anything else except Maleficent, also this year, but he does a great job here as Jonas. Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard play his parents, or at least the two people selected to raise him in their family unit, and Cameron Monaghan plays Asher, another of Jonas's friend. The other standout performances here are Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder, and Jeff Bridges as The Giver; Taylor Swift also has a very small role as The Giver's daughter, who was "released to Elsewhere" after she failed to perform well in her new duties as the Receiver of Memory, ten years prior to Jonas receiving that role.

Yes, see this film. I was initially thinking of giving it 4.5/5 stars, but the ending was more abrupt than I would have liked it to be. I'll need to reread the book at some point now too, to compare, but purely from a movie standpoint, it's a "thinking man's movie" - it kept me intrigued throughout most of its runtime, and it's not your typical fluff film; I'd classify it as sci-fi, and specifically, dystopian. I'm hoping this film does well at the box office, too, so that more dystopian films will be made, as it's one of my favorite film, and also, book, genres.

The Giver is in theaters today, August 15th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 94 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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