Giver, The: Phillip Noyce’s Misfire as Art and Entertainment

You know what they say about well-intentioned message films that work so hard at signaling their cause that they forget their medium (visual and dramatic) and purpose (entertainment rather than instruction).

The Weinstein Company release, which is scheduled as counter-programming in mid-August, will suffer from negative reviews and unfavorable word of mouth.

A misfire as art or entertainment, The Giver nonetheless enjoyed a prestigious beginnings: It is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

Phillip Noyce, working from a screenplay by Vadim Perelman, proves to be the wrong director for this kind of nuanced and sensitive material.  Marked by heavy-handed approach, and lacking the right tempo and visual shape for such a tale, The Giver just plods along from one scene to another.

Unfortunately, a lot of the magic, which is fully abundant in the book, was lost in the process of translating the tale to the big screen, and, alas, even reliable actors, such as Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, could not help this feature, which was almost dead upon arrival.

The wannabe haunting story centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and acceptance.

Jonas begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who is the sole keeper of the community’s memories—sort fo a livinf collective consciousness. Through him, Jonas begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community’s secret past.

But knowledge can bring joy as well as pain.  With this newfound power of knowledge, Jonas realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined, no less than a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most.

Against all odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all, a challenge that no human has ever succeeded at before.

MPAA: PG-13.

Running time: 100 minutes.

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Written by Vadim Perelman

released: August 15, 2014