Title: The Giver
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, and Brenton Thwaites
Plot: In the wake of a vague catastrophic event, our species has sacrificed its essential humanity in the name of eradicating suffering and violence. One man, “The Giver” (Bridges), is tasked with experiencing the collective human memory in case its contents are ever needed. When he is tasked with passing his knowledge on to a boy named Jonas, a chain of events is initiated that threatens to unleash the power–and potential chaos–of human emotion on a “perfect” world.
Why See It: I haven’t read The Giver. I imagine that anyone who has will be disappointed. This is one of those films that frustrates not because it was terrible, but because it came so close to being good. When a world demands as much suspension of disbelief as this one it has to be completely immersive; this demands care. I applaud The Giver for holding out so long before it became a dumb action movie but, in the end, it still did. As soon as things switched into high gear, they completely derailed and all notion of subtlety was abandoned in favor of some truly yawn-inducing bike chases and a conclusion that felt cliché and empty. This movie was at its best when it sat back and gave the audience room to admire. While shot in black and white, the film’s aesthetic balanced futuristic and retrograde science fiction into a setting that conveyed a disturbing sterility. On the acting front is a decidedly mixed bag. Bridges played his usual gruff, crusty mentor to perfection and I loved the interaction between him and Streep’s Chief Elder. The film’s other actors pulled their weight but little else can be said of them. Were there any offensively bad performances? No. But few of the characters engrossed me in any meaningful way. The Giver is a success in concept and atmosphere but a failure in some important areas of execution. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, The Giver is a good choice but nothing that could be described as a “must-see.”