I read The Giver when my daughter read it for school and was impressed by how Lois Lowry delivers such a dark message in a powerful way.
The movie also accomplishes this very well, even though, it does not follow the book.
The story centers around the teenager Jonas — a messiah figure — who as a Receiver must take in all the memories of past societies so normalcy can be maintained in the current world. Long before Jonas was born, city elders had created a society where sameness, truthfulness and conformity ensured humanity would never fall to the ills of war, pain or any other negativity caused by an emotional reaction to life.
The story is dark and thought-provoking as one learns that society’s woes, like murder, have simply been replaced by government-sanctioned killings. Less desirable members of society, whether they are the elderly or non-thriving infants, are sent to Elsewhere. One of the most disturbing moments in the story is when Jonas realizes that his father, a caretaker in a children’s nursery, culls young infants from society by euthanizing them.
Despite a strong performance by the Giver (Jeff Bridges), the chief elder (Meryl Streep), Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) and Fiona (Odeya Rush) the movie failed to draw a large crowd on its opening weekend. This could be an indication of viewer fatigue with young adult dsytopian society movies — like Divergent and Hunger Games — or the fact that The Giver is more cerebral, making it somewhat more difficult to transition to the large screen.
But, having watched all three of the movies, The Giver holds its own very well. No, it is not the book, but someone who has never read the book can watch the movie and will be pulled in to the jarring nonsensical approach to living that a society based on sameness and ‘reason’ creates.
And everyone will be hoping Jonas can handle the weight of his calling and that he can save the life of the infant boy, Gabriel.