Movies that predict what our future will be like have always shown a world where something is just not quite right. They’ve veered from the fatalistic showing us a barbaric world with marauding hordes to pristine worlds that had no hope. But on occasion those worlds differ from what we’ve been offered before and we get a glimpse of what could be as well as what we could become.
THE GIVER takes us to a future more in line with that second category. In this future, everyone is content and has their job to do. There is no war, no illness, no suffering. While no one is sad and expressions of happiness are limited, they exist and do well for themselves, living in the Community. Everyone lives in a clean home with a generic family. Young people grow knowing that one day they will be chosen for the job they’ve been destined to do, one they are suited for. But the price paid for this seeming utopia is high. With nothing bad how can anything good be recognized?
The story focuses around Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man about to turn 18 and face his focus in life. But therein lies the problem. While others have known what they were suited for, Jonas has never felt comfortable in any choice. He sees the world differently than most and can’t explain it.
The annual ceremony is held where the elderly are sent to elsewhere and where 18 year olds are given their positions. When Jonas’ turn arrives he is skipped over. This is not because he isn’t suited for a position but because, as they all discover, he is chosen for the most exalted position, that of the future Giver.
When he shows for his assignment at a house on the edge of the Community, he meets the current Giver (Jeff Bridges). He is slowly developed by the Giver to receive information. It has been passed down this way for generations. All that once was is transferred from the old to the new, everything from emotions to history. Jonas is suddenly aware of all that he has never experienced and at first wants more. When he sees pain and war he hesitates though.
With each passing day Jonas feels more alive than ever. In a bland world of black and white he suddenly sees a world of color (they’ve even chosen to forgo colors because it might lead to confrontation). In his joyous state he begins sharing some of these things with Fiona (Odeya Rush), a friend and girl he’s felt something for without ever having been able to recognize that emotion…until now. When he convinces her to stop her morning injections (the entire world has them) she begins to see and feel too.
Under the watchful eye of the government and its main leader the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep), Jonas’ indiscretion is caught. His trying to share things with both Fiona and his family are not taken lightly. His own mother (Katie Holmes), a chief enforcement agent, turns on him and tries to stop him. But with the door open to a new way of living, with the possibilities that are out there, Jonas wants to share this new world and give people the chance at true freedom. When he learns what elsewhere truly means, how it not only does the unexpected with the elderly but with newborns as well, his mind is made up.
With the help of the Giver, Jonas intends to change his world forever. But the entire Community is told he has gone rogue. A land of passivity wants nothing to do with freedom nor the possibilities it holds. The leaders will do everything in their power to stop Jonas. Only he holds the key to the future.
So much of this tale is told in the trailers that were seen before the movie was released. Many already knew the story having read the best seller. What is fun to watch here is the world and its beauty laid out for Jonas to see as his eyes are literally opened. It’s a look at a world that many of us currently take for granted and one that people in his world have no knowledge of.
Everything about the production of this film ranks high. The photography, acting, story and effects combine to make a mystical tale of what could be. What happens in the end, if Jonas can succeed or not, holds you in a tight grip. You’re not sure if he will win the day or be stopped. In today’s films that sometimes happens. But the journey to discover what will occur is one that you will enjoy. Another movie to add to the collection on the shelf.
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