In this perfect world where everything is the same and there is no pain or suffering or war, people graduate from school and accept their appointed jobs in society. Jonas (Brenton Thwaites from “The Signal”) is nervous because he does not know what he wants, but he knows he is different. His best friend Fiona (Odeya Rush from “When the Devil Comes”) is selected for Nurturing and everyone else in the community gets a normal job except for Jonas. He is chosen to be the receiver of all the past memories.
Jonas reports to the Giver (Jeff Bridges from “Crazy Heart“) who spends every day giving him all the memories of the past civilizations – before the sameness. He learns all the secrets of the world and the great highs and lows that mankind is capable of. Everyone else in the community gets an injection every morning that suppresses their emotions so they can’t feel anything. Personally, I take my injections at night.
It’s tough for Jonas to find out his world is not perfect, and painful to know just how imperfect humans were in the past. When he skips his injections, he starts having feelings but there is nobody to share them with. Reminds me of when I was in fourth grade, but that’s another story.
Jeff Bridges is a good choice to play the Giver, since he’s never been one to follow the rules. The weight of the wisdom has made him weary. It pains him to carry the burden of this knowledge, and he gives Jonas more than memories. He gives him the hope that he can change things.
I hear this was first a young adult book, and it does make a grim fairy tale. The great solution to cure all the problems in the world is to make everyone willing zombies to the rule of law and order. It’s not what these people are taught, it’s what they are not told or allowed to become: human.
This movie fits in the same basket as “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” and even “The Village,” although less effort has gone into making this an action movie. Though I applaud the character conflict and the bizarre world, the movie felt light at 90 minutes. Jonas is left to carry the memories and the plot for everyone else. By design, the rest of the cast had nothing much to give.
While it was nice sci-fi tale, it lacked the power this kind of thematic treatment of the flaws of humanity demands. For that reason, I have to give this movie 3 stars out of 5. They should have kept giving when the giving got good.
Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site: http://bashmovies.wordpress.com