Review Rewind: ‘The Giver’

The movie: The Giver

The year: 2014

The people: Brenton Thwaites as the uncomfortably static lead character, Jonas; Odeya Rush as the incredibly boring love interest, Fiona; Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep as the Giver and Chief Elder, respectively, both roles completely underutilizing the acting abilities of the two stars; and Taylor Swift as The Giver’s daughter and former student, Rosemary, the most pointless and cash-grab-y cameo ever.

The non-revealing plot: Jonas lives in a dystopian society, where there is no color or emotion or good acting. There’s an annual graduation for the various age groups within society, and Jonas and his friends are at the age where they receive their life-long career assignments. Jonas gets a particularly wacky assignment.   

The unofficial genre: An “American social science fiction dystopian film,” according to Wikipedia. That seems too generous.

My opinion (emotional): I understand that the film’s emotional aspects would be inconsequential for most of its duration due to the society being devoid of emotion. However, once Jonas begins to receive memories and, by proxy, emotions, there should be some depth added to the film. However, absolutely none of that is present in the film. 

My opinion (technical): The movie starts with some on-screen writing that explains the situational components to the film’s plot. The font used made it seem like I was about to watch a second-semester high school senior’s iMovie project for AP Environmental Science. The narration sounds unnatural and the conversations between the teenagers seem like a promotional video for a summer camp rather than an actual film. Meryl Streep is one of the best actresses ever, but even she can’t make her character interesting, which is important for any movie villain. The most frustrating aspect of the movie was when Jonas would receive memories from the Giver and they’d look like travel advertisements. There’s one where Jonas is on a boat watching the sun set and he’s so evidently green-screened into the video that may very well have been copied and pasted from Go Hawaii. At one point in the film, Jonas asks something along the lines of “If I’m the ‘Receiver,’ then what are you?” to which Jeff Bridges’ titular character replies “The ‘Giver.’” It’s one of the most obnoxious movie title name drops ever. For whatever reason, the director of this film decided that when Jonas realized he wanted to rebel against the Chief Elder and his society, a montage would be added depicting people such as Nelson Mandela. The connecting theme of fighting for freedom is a nice thought, but the comparison of angsty teen Jonas to Nelson Mandela is just laughable. 

Overall rating: I have to give props to Katie Holmes for drawing inspiration from her recent marriage to play a brainwashed parent, so 0.5/10

If you like this, you’ll also like: Jack and Jill (2011), Divergent (2014) and steaming hot trash.