Movie Review: The Giver (2014)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the science fiction movie starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.

Synopsis: 16-year-old Jonas grew up in what he believed was a perfect society, governed by a basic set of rules that have allowed people to live in harmony with each other. However, after graduation, he is named as his community's new Receiver of Memory and, as he is educated about events of the past and, more importantly, feelings, he begins to break the rules by sharing his new-found wisdom with his friends and is declared dangerous by the community's elders.


My wife was showing signs of being exhausted after our early morning Black Friday shopping today and I encouraged her to take a short nap before we picked up the kids from my parents' house. I had just finished watching a movie and still had one of our movie channels on TV when the film "The Giver" came on. 

At first, I wasn't going to watch this movie. However, I couldn't find much else on and decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, it just wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be.

There were a couple things about this film I did like. For one, I loved the way the filmmakers decided to film the majority of the movie in a black and white hue and gradually add color to visually represent the characters gaining knowledge. While, admittedly simple, it was also pretty clever because it did a great job getting the point across.

Also, while I'm not normally a big Jeff Bridges fan, I thought he did a decent job in this movie as the community's aging Receiver of Knowledge tasked with passing on what he knew to the next generation. The character had to be a bit of a hermit and rebel while, at the same time, still complying enough with the elders to keep himself safe. Bridges was actually a very good choice for the role as a result because he was very believable.

I think my biggest problem with this film was, as I was watching it, I couldn't shake the feeling it was withholding information. I'm not sure if the writers assumed everyone watching this film read the book first or just did a terrible job editing it but the movie seemed to be a bit rushed and, because of that, it didn't fully embrace what was a relatively complex plot. As a result of this, while the film did an OK job of giving the viewer a basic understanding of what was happening, I couldn't help but feel there was much more to the story. In other words, it felt a little incomplete.

Final Opinion

Based on what I saw, I think the book this movie draws inspiration from might be worth taking the time to read. However, even without having read the book, I could tell this film wasn't doing it justice and, because of that, I just wasn't impressed with it.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 11/27/2015, StevenHelmer
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