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By Jess Fenton
7th September 2014

With the barrage of YA novels turned feature films in the last decade - especially those of the dystopian variety - it’s a wonder it’s taken this long for the bestseller ‘The Giver’ to be adapted. In actual fact, the 21-year gap from paper to screen is a major red flag. Sometimes the rich texture of the written word is lost in the instant gratification of a moving visual medium. Sadly ‘The Giver’s’ rich, emotionally vulnerable themes are lost in trying to convey this bleak world and all that is lost within it, inside a limited running time.

Australian actor Brenton Thwaites plays Jonas, a teenage boy having just finished his schooling who is about to receive his job assignment for life. He lives in a highly regulated world of births, deaths, families, jobs, even food. A world so regulated it’s void of colour and real joy. A world without Christmas, weddings, natural births, childish play and wild animals - all these and more a necessary sacrifice to build a society that has eliminated war, crime, and both physical and emotional pain. When Jonas is assigned the great honour of becoming the next Receiver of Memory, he embarks on a frightening, confusing and overwhelming internal journey of becoming one of only two people with the knowledge of what the world once was versus what it is now, and is burdened with deciding which is better.


While the film proposes some serious food for thought, the story falls victim to convoluted ideas that get more and more confusing the further you delve. The emotional weight of the situation is never properly established on conveyed, thereby dissolving the film of any real urgency or serious stakes, as Jonas’ goal is very singular from an outsiders perspective.

As a stand-alone the film does okay, but for the generations that have grown up with the book - and will continue to - we’re left disappointed, scratching our heads and seriously wanting for more.

RELEASE DATE: 11/09/2014
RUN TIME: 1h 37m
CAST: Brenton Thwaites
Meryl Streep
Jeff Bridges
Alexander Skarsgård
Taylor Swift
Katie Holmes
DIRECTOR: Phillip Noyce
WRITER: Michael Mitnick
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