Rated: PG-13 for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: August 18, 2014 Released by: The Weinstein Company
The Giver has almost everything to make it a great motion picture.
Director Phillip Noyce brings us to a place (on an isolated plateau) where emotions are non existent, no violence no love. There is no war, pain or suffering it's a perfect placid fifties TV world. It reminds us of Pleasantville, where all is smooth and no sharp edges appear in the lives of the black and white city. When a little color appears folks begin to change. Here we see a class of kids parceled off to their future positions in a sort of graduation ceremony. Each has a lifetime assignment a little like Brave New World. The chip in the armor, which is held in place by Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) is set in motion when Jonas (Brenton Thwaltes) is chosen to be the new learner assigned to The Giver.
The atmosphere established by Noyce is enhanced by creative designs through out the city. It is filled with clean white squared buildings, which are equally separated from each other in circles or clusters. Paths connect it all and the design is perfect. City planners would love this place. The stadium has an arch walk way over it and the characters show a slight breaking of the code when they slide down one of the sides. The colors even when drab are filled with beauty and when the color of life begins to break through the entire location even the people become more attractive. Odeya Rush who plays Fiona shines throughout but her face lights up when it is filled with natural color.
Streep works at keeping everyone in line and the society safe and dull, but black and white shows all the lines in faces and hints at the underlying internal need to traverse the established outer marker and find the not so perfect. Jeff Bridges is The Giver he is the keeper of the past working in a library with aching levels and books which give the history of the past civilization. The Giver touches Jonas and brings images into his mind. Initially he is exposed to brilliant color in flowers, the sky line and sunset. We learn that Jonas is in line to become the next Giver and he is constantly challenged to indicate if he believes he can accept the responsibility.
But when Jonas sees war and killing he questions the role he has been selected for. At the same time he has begun to move around with Fiona searching to learn the secrets of the perfect society. He is shocked at one point by the actions of his father played by, Alexander Skarsgard. His mother played in a not so charming manner by Katie Holmes has darker lines on her face as she expresses disapproval of here son's unauthorized activity.
Taylor Swift has a small part and is difficult to recognize with dark hair, little Emma Tremblay is the young sister who sees things quite clearly and with a child like innocence observes the challenge her brother is facing. Cameron Monaghan is the best friend who is ordered to limit Jonas' activity like Logan's friend in Logan's Run.
Bridges passes on all information including the location of the line which cannot be crossed, breaking the invisible frontier line is not allowed. But Jonas has already begun to dream of snow and a sled. It all comes together as a statement against sameness and the value of non-conforming. For a teenager like Jonas it doesn't take much of a shove from Bridges for the young man to yearn for diversity which existed in the past. He learns that there is little satisfaction in a life that enjoys neither joy nor pain and all that falls between.
The performances are stellar and the look of the production is stunning but the somewhat abrupt ending doesn't satisfy enough to justify all that we have seen before.