#REVIEW: “THE GIVER”
Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Adapting Lois Lowry‘s The Giver appears a daunting task considering its massive Fanbase and a large amount of ground to cover. I have never read the Book, but with that being said, it is uncertain just how Fans of the Book might react to the upcoming take by Director Phillip Noyce (Salt). Aside from issues with pacing, The Giver‘s saving graces are two standout performances by its two Male Leads.
The Movie is set in a world without emotion, individuality nor violence. We meet our Characters Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), Fiona (Odeya Rush), and Asher (Cameron Monaghan) – all friends – awaiting duty assignment at the important Ceremony of Twelve. The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) appears in Hologram form, and assigns everyone their tasks with the exception of Jonas. Jonas is given the the most important responsibility of all, the Receiver of Memory, aiding the Elders in deciding what to do in times of uncertainty. The Receiver of Memory holds memories of the past, including those that no one else can seem to remember. These involve war, and cruelty, but at once love and passion. To obtain these memories and to be trained on how to control his emotions when processing them, Jonas must work with The Giver (Jeff Bridges). After Jonas realizes the true cruelty of their world, he decides that he has to take it upon himself to cross boundaries and open the eyes of those around him whom long have been oblivious. The Chief Elder is fearful of repercussions, uncertain what will come of the World she oversees.
Despite clocking-in at 94 minutes, The Giver at times feels much longer in its perpetual state of meditation. Even with its fine attention to styling, a grayscale to colour transition within the Film might appear a bit jarring. Bridges in the Titular Role, manages to be commanding yet embodying a virtuous and and nurturing nature of his Character. The talented and fresh-faced Thwaites perhaps is the Film’s biggest revelation, expressing perfectly the bewilderment Jonas experiences as his world is turned upside-down. He transforms from being a fun-loving naïve Boy to a Man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. The Duo generate a brother-like chemistry which is the very heart and soul of the Story and Fans of the Book should find something to latch onto in this regard. Also, despite possessing much Starpower in its Supporting Cast including Rush, Streep, Katie Holmes and Taylor Swift – ultimately they are seen far too little despite holding key importance to the Plot.
eOne Films releases The Giver nationwide on Friday, August 15, 2014.