A youth named Jonas lives in an equalized, literally colorless, but pleasant society with no knowledge of love or pain and such. When he and his best friends Asher and Fiona come of age, they receive their societal roles, with Jonas given the rare position of Receiver (of Memories). Because of this, he meets a mentoring elder Receiver (later called The Giver). They look at memories of the past world, of joy, of pain, and of love. As Jonas receives these memories, he breaks the cardinal rule against sharing them with others, thereby getting in trouble with the watchful Chief Elder. When Jonas discovers that an infant boy named Gabriel will be terminated, his efforts to save the child puts him squarely against his society. Deciding that all must re-learn to see color, to feel pain, and to show and receive love, Jonas becomes public enemy number one.
One wonders at the physical state of Jonas, particularly his feet, in walking up and over the snowy mountain in nothing but summer clothing and gym shoes (especially after passing out from exhaustion in the snow after his trek through the desert). See more »
From the ashes of The Ruin, the Communities were built. Protected by the Boundary. All memories of the past were erased.
After The Ruin we started over, creating a new society, one of true equality. Rules were the building blocks of that equality. We learned them as Newchildren. Rules like: use precise language, wear your assigned clothing, take your morning medication, obey the curfew, never lie.
My name is Jonas. I don't have a last name. None of us did. That day, the day before ...
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Had I known Taylor Swift was in this movie, I might have been less enthusiastic about the film, however, I can promise you that any Taylor Swiftness on posters and in promo is all a marketing ploy. She has a tiny – if important – role in the film and has very little screen time. The real star of the show is Brenton Thwaites as Jonas and he's really quite lovely in his role as the compassionate and curious Receiver.
The Giver film is competing against franchises like The Hunger Games, Divergent and even The Maze Runner. In order to give The Giver more teen appeal and to capture The Hunger Games/Divergent audience, the movie tried to be a lot that the book was not. The movie – despite being adapted from the predecessor of the modern dystopian trend – feels a little too familiar and cliché because it tries a little too hard to fit in aesthetically and tonally with the other YA adaptations. I wish the film had foregone the shiny technology additions and stuck with the utilitarian world-building of the book. I can also understand why the film producers chose to up the age of the protagonists and up the angst as well, but I'm not sure it really added all that much to the overall story except making it feel like another teen movie when it should've been so much more than that.
Where the film did excel was in the cinematography and use of black&white and color. This is described well in the book, but the visual medium of film really brought this to life. I do think they could've done even more with that, although I think they were trying to stay true to the book here. I was also hoping for more of an emotional impact from certain scenes between the Giver and the Receiver in the film. Some of those scenes in the book are brutal and really broke my heart for Jonas. It didn't have quite the same impact for me in the film – perhaps because the character was older.
The ending of the book disappointed me but the film managed to deliver a very similar ending in a way that stayed true to the book while also providing a greater sense of closure. Where I think the book meandered into allegory, the movie developed the plot and made a more compelling story overall, even if some of the 'science' of how all this was possible is dubious at best.
A major highlight from the film for me was seeing the usually uber sexy and seductive Alexander Skarsgård playing a nurturing father figure who worked in the nursery with newborns while his wife – played by the petite Katie Holmes – was involved in politics. Seeing 6'4 Eric Northman – sorry, Alex Skarsgård – so tenderly caring for tiny babies really highlighted the gender dynamics and theme of equality in the book. It was a very clever casting choice.
Overall, this movie was fine but not amazing. Given the source material and how beloved this story is I felt they could've done much more with it.
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