LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Based on the book by Lois Lowry, The Giver takes place in a futuristic Utopian society in which its' citizens are required to follow certain rules such as "don't lie", "take your daily injections", "speak properly", and several others. It's a society in which your career path and role in society is selected for you. A society in which the young and elderly who are not strong enough or useful enough are granted a "release to elsewhere". A society in which people have no choices. There are even required sleeping times and eating times. It's a society in which everything is in black and white.
Enter Jonas, a boy who is a little more curious than the rest of his friends. He is selected as the "Receiver of Memory" the person who will take on the memories of the past, which have been wiped from everyone else's minds, including the emotions that coincide with them, and use them to advise the elder council on actions they should take. To receive the memory, he becomes a pupil of "The Giver" who has been passed the memories and emotions of human society. As Jonas begins to receive the memories of love, hate, anger, and peace he learns a terrible secret about his society and begins to see things in a new light. He realizes that he must change his world and figure out a way to let the memories and emotions flow once more.
The Giver is a really good idea for a movie but I have a feeling that several elements that work in the book just don't translate well to film. I haven't read the book so I don't know what those elements are but for a film about a young man discovering emotion, it didn't convey much emotion. You get a feeling for his sense of "awe" as he discovers things but the emotions didn't connect and the memory flashbacks didn't feel as powerful as they could have or should have been. The acting was good in from Jeff Bridges as "The Giver" and Brenton Thwaites as "Jonas" and the supporting cast wasn't my favorite but they did fine in their respective roles. Meryl Streep was just kind of there as the "Chief Elder".
I'm not a big fan of long movies, usually 2 hours is about as long as I like a movie to be and oddly, while The Giver runs about an hour and forty minutes, I felt that it should have been a little longer. I wanted to see more character development, I wanted it to take longer for Jonas to go from learner to rebel, I wanted to know more about this society and the motives behind the rules. I felt like the film missed on those aspects and it suffered from it.
The Giver wasn't a bad movie, I just wish it was better.