Complete A-Z list

Giver, The


Stars: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Cameron Monaghan, Odeya Rush, Emma Tremblay, Jefferson Mays

Director: Phillip Noyce

One more dystopian drama follows in the well-trodden footsteps of such recent offerings as The Hunger Games, The Purge and Divergent and scads of previous genre entries like 1984, V for Vendetta and Elysium. This, like The Hunger Games, is based on a best-selling science fiction novel (which has sold more than 10 million copies world wide and is it’s publisher’s top selling e-book) by Lois Lowry.

The monochrome utopia here is a neat, mildly futuristic world (briefly seen from above as an apparently geometrically-laid-out ‘island’ in the clouds) with clean-drawn modernistic homes and vaguely futuristic bicycles ridden by youngsters. Our Young Hero, convincingly played by Australian Brendan Thwaites, is an oddball who occasionally sees flashes of colour, including red hair on he young girl he fancies) in his otherwise black-and-white environment.

His metamorphosis begins when he is selected by the Council of Elders (“The Elders are never wrong”) to receive the position of the community’s ‘Receiver of Memories’ – to learn about the time before the ‘Sameness’ from ‘The Giver’ – Jeff Bridges sporting a lived-in beard and telling the lad, “They are called books. Your books... You will learn the secret history of the world”.

Thwaites’ new responsibilities isolate him from his contemporaries but finally lead to a colourful climax sliding down a snow covered slope on a sled…

While it’s not quite up to, say, The Hunger Games in either budget or star casting, The Giver is neatly aimed by screenwriters Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide at teenagers and directed efficiently enough by Phillip Noyce who gets an effective performance from Thwaites that carries the narrative, Alexander Skarsgard, too, does the business as the lad’s fathe while (I assume for the purposes of light relief) Meryl Streep (here failing to employ the five accents in which the late, great Joan Rivers wanted her to cry in at her funeral) looks her age in a grisly long wig and glowers rather than acting well. So no Oscar this time.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
97 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Sep 2014