The Giver review: dystopian sci-fi for all the family

In living colour: Brenton Thwaites in The Giver

Film Title: THE GIVER

Director: Philip Noyce

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgård

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 97 min

Fri, Sep 19, 2014, 00:00


The set-up will seem rather familiar to anyone who saw DreamWorks’ Bee Movie. Jonas (newcomer Brenton Thwaites) lives in a controlled community in the future where all emotions are suppressed. On graduation day, when careers are assigned, the chief elder (Streep) announces that Jonas will be trained to be Jeff Bridges’s replacement as the receiver of memories.

Our hero’s new position allows him to see that his world and everything in it is a lie. He soon stops taking his emotional suppressants. He starts to develop feelings for his lifelong chum, Fiona.

Worst of all, he asks questions. His parents, as essayed by Alexander Skarsgård and Katie Holmes, are understandably concerned.

No hit young adult novel has gone unmolested in Hollywood’s rush to find the “next big thing”. Unhappily, for every Hunger Games or Twilight sequence, there are dozens of flops and also-rans.

We had no reason to suppose that The Giver would be any better than Beautiful Creatures or Mortal Instruments. Despite the presence of heavyweights Streep, Bridges, and Skarsgård, this new family-friendly dystopian adventure has failed to light up the US box office, taking just $12.3 million on its opening weekend last month.

For all that, The Giver is a solid, soft sci-fi entertainment with plenty of talented folks attached.

Taking a cue from The Wizard of Oz, the film moves from monochrome to saturated colour to reflect Jonas’s emotional journey. Even an appearance by the ubiquitous Taylor Swift doesn’t spoil the show.