Review: ‘The Giver’ film adaptation fails to impress

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Cameron Scott, Staff Writer

The Giver, an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s award-winning novel, was a highly anticipated movie by book lovers everywhere, and, as is usually the case with book-to-movie adaptations, it was also painfully disappointing.

The Giver revolves around a young boy named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), who has been given the opportunity to take the place of The Receiver of Memories (Jeff Bridges). The Receiver of Memories is the only one in the whole city who knows about the past. As Jonas “receives” these memories of the past, he experiences things like violence and passion for the first time in his life, and he begins to open his eyes to the corruption of the world he lives in.

The movie itself, directed by Philip Noyce, isn’t horrible. Books and film are two different mediums, and smart changes do wonders to smooth the transition. Unfortunately, The Giver doesn’t make changes for any reason other than to fit into the cookie-cutter, young adult sci-fi, money-making machine. By aging up the characters, it loses the innocence of the source material, and because loss of innocence is basically the emotional cornerstone of the book, the movie is left feeling bland and anticlimactic.

To help capture Jonas’s discovery of love, the adaptors forced a romance into the story, which, in theory, could have worked favorably, but it didn’t. There’s a difference between watching a young adult discover love and watching a childfeel it for the first time. The book hinges on simplicity, on the tragedy of children losing all the world has to offer; it works as a metaphor for growing up and discovering truths both good and bad. With a twenty-four-year-old playing Jonas, the film loses all of the metaphor and much of the resonance.

Bridges is the true star of the movie, giving The Giver all the presence and wisdom such a character demands, while the rest of the performances range from surprisingly subtle to unintentionally flat. Even the great Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder falls flat because of the poorly written script.

The script almost comes off as if the writers were trying to overcompensate for the loss of the book’s emotional grounding. The viewers already know the Community is bad news within the first 10 minutes because the leaders are so blatantly oppressive that they barely feel real at all. The cold, futuristic set only adds to the general sense of oppression, completely ridding the Community of any moral nuance it could have potentially possessed.

The ending was unfortunately one of the only things that didn’t change, and just like in the book, it felt abrupt and dissatisfying. I don’t understand why Hollywood insists on making all of the good books into horrible movies.

Rating: 3/10