Opening 2 Oct 2014
Imagine a world without changing weather conditions, war, famine, color, and emotions. You have entered a perfect world. The Elders are in charge, and categorically supported. Perpetual good health, order, and harmony prevail; dissimilarity is not allowed. When teens graduate from Childhood, each is assigned a position in the community that guarantees maintaining its equilibrium. Such is the environment in which three sworn best friends begin their transition to adulthood.
At graduation ceremonies, #52 (Brenton Thwaites) is the last to be assigned a new place. Asher (Cameron Monaghan) is selected to be a drone pilot, and Fiona (Odeya Rush) for the Nurturing Center. Finally, Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) tells Jonas he possesses four attributes imperative to taking on this particular task – they cannot afford another failure. He is to be Receiver of Memories. With trepidation Jonas approaches the house at the edge of nowhere where the aged, craggy current memory keeper says, “call me The Giver (Jeff Bridges).” Meanwhile, Father (Alexander Skarsgård) brings baby Gabriel home for temporary individual care. Mother (Katie Holmes) is skeptical but adolescent Lily (Emma Tremblay) welcomes the flailing infant. Dizzyingly swept along by his training, the first memory Jonas experiences is the last he will leave. He tries to share these wonders with his friends. Yet, Jonas discovers “what is good is always bad”; unreceptive of some memories The Giver asks, “If you can’t feel, what’s the point.”
Director Phillip Noyce took on a daunting challenge bringing Lois Lowry's book to the big screen. Unfortunately, the set-up is rushed – crucial for believability – that consequently magnifies inconsistencies in and between many of the main characters’ actions. Barry Alexander Brown’s editing could have sustained tempo and tone better. That said, the talented cast – with consummate actors Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges forefront – command our attention. Equally mesmerizing is the tactical inter-exchange of color and black-and-white (Ross Emery camera), and the milieu (Ed Verreaux production design, Andrew McCarthy set decoration and the art direction team led by Shira Hockman). There may be elements reminiscent of past sci-fi films, yet this drama’s uniqueness – looking into the future from this point in time – ensures credible, provocative, engaging entertainment. (Marinell Haegelin)