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The Giver Review: ‘A Bland Tale Of An Unhappy Future’

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Based on Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel The Giver shows the darker side to young adult fiction and a dysfunctional dystopia.

The idea is similar to Logan’s Run, Divergent or even distantly to The Hunger Games, however less action packed.

Set in a colourless world that has eliminated all emotions, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is selected to be the new “Receiver of Memory”. Since no one can remember the past and no one is able to feel pain; anger, desire, joy or love, one citizen in this bland utopia is chosen to feel and remember.

The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep in a wig) hints at a tragedy that occured to the last receiver, but one talks about it, or even remembers properly. So when Jonas meets his mentor, The Giver (a craggy Jeff Bridges) he tries to find out what the secret is.

Unable to share what he is experiencing when the Giver shares his knowledge and allows emotions to erupt, Jonas soon finds life hard in the community, especially when he is at home, which they call dwellings. His dutiful but distant parents (Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard) notice the changes and are concerned.

Luckily his best friend and love-interest Fiona (Odeya Rush) is more open to the idea of something new, but she is afraid of the strictly monitoring Chief Elder.

As the plot moves on and colour is infused into the scenes it becomes obvious that The Giver never quite grips it’s audience and just muddles along, a little like the community it is criticizing.

While director Philip Noyce and screenwriters Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide have stayed close to the original story, it doesn’t translate to screen well, especially the bombardment of images that seem to be trying to hard.

Overall the strong cast just isn’t enough to turn The Giver from a bland tale of an unhappy future into a vivid story you can emotionally attach to. And even though newcomers Thwaites and Rush do try their very best, and receive good support from Taylor Swift, in a thankless walk-on role, they are just not convincing as 16-year-olds.

So if you want an action packed dystopia with a strong story and convincing actors maybe wait for The Hunger Games later this year.

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