This film is nice. It’s pretty easy to watch. It’s just not really worth the bother.
Based on Lois Lowry’s much loved children’s novel, The Giver hops in trying to ride in the wake of The Hunger Games’ success. With another sinister dystopia, another young, beautiful hero (Brenton Thwaites), and another battle between individuality and the system, The Giver should have a recipe for success.
On top of that, Meryl Streep’s in it. Meryl Streep – most brilliant of human beings who can normally be relied upon as a solid signpost for a good film. Taylor Swift even makes an appearance too, and Jeff Bridges is ‘the Giver’: what more do we want?
Well, the voice-over kills a star by itself – it will nearly kill your sanity. It doesn’t say much, but it is always there, trying to be poignant and sounding like a school play.
Then there is the degree of absurdity. A community that takes daily injections to feel no emotion, where there is no music and no colour because sameness is safer, is decently tenable. Unfortunately, the imagination can’t stretch to stuff about surviving off memories of joy in the absence of food. The last half an hour is a struggle.
Most of all, however, this film disappoints because it does nothing with the deeper questions below the plot. The story brings up an interesting concept: is it better to live in a world where there is always peace but no emotion, or to live our world where there is love but also war and pain?
The question is there but is never properly explored. Rather, it is an excuse for a boy to trek across a mountain range and make out with a girl from school. Pleasant, but it doesn’t give much satisfaction.