Movie Review: ‘The Giver’

Jarrett Quick

The Giver” was first published in 1993, and at this point — now that it’s been made into a movie — there’s not a lot of new territory to explore. It was slow, the main character was terribly acted and at this point it’s hard to tell it apart from the glut of dystopian young adult films that are released every few weeks.

In “The Giver,” society has abolished all emotion, color and most fun things in the effort to sustain a utopian community where every person has a place and the world’s ills are erased from memory. At the Ceremony of Growth where society chooses the future professions of the town’s youth, Jonas, portrayed by Brenton Thwaites, is picked to be the Receiver and take the memories of humanity’s past from the Giver, played by Jeff Bridges, so he can guide the town leaders and find what it is to actually live.

Thwaites is not a good actor and when someone who doesn’t act well is in almost every scene, it’s hard not to notice. He has to be able to convey a lot to the audience after each feeling or memory he absorbs, but he never does it very well. For being a film about the dangers of losing individuality, Thwaites looks like almost any pretty white male in any recent or upcoming dystopian teen flick. 

I appreciated the fact that the film began in black and white to portray the revelation of color and the film’s dark feel, but it never seems to rise above the stinted atmosphere of its Stepford society. Even when Jonas is frantically running across the town trying to save people’s lives, there’s not a lot to care about. The townspeople are “emotionless” but are still able to feel plenty of anger at Jonas and his new ideas while never really digging deeper and presenting anything more than water rainbows and bad acting.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy “The Giver,” mainly because of the acting. Bridges was fine as the titular Giver, but pretty much every other lead was flat and boring. I will say that the set design was impressive, and if it were filled with people who could bring this story of individuality to life, it would have been much more enjoyable.

2 out of 5 Stars