Sunday, September 28, 2014
Let’s Get So Conscious
Long before we knew about The Hunger Games, and even longer before we learned that a person could be Divergent, there was The Giver.
Written by virtual original young-adult future-dystopia novelist Lois Lowry back in ’93, The Giver – a pet project of Jeff Bridges’ – arrived on the silver screen last month. Sterilely helmed by Phillip Noyce, the movie floundered at the box office, unable to connect to the material’s big ideas, evidently, and, worse, with audiences (so far, Americans have helped it recoup its admittedly, obviously modest $25 million budget by less than double as much).
This in spite of it starring the world’s favorite Dude, Bridges, Meryl friggin’ Streep, and Brenton Thwaites.
The hot PYAussieT plays Jonas, a young man (an underserved Alexander Skarsgård and a slightly less so Katie Holmes portray his parents) living in a seemingly ideal post-war community (the year, I understand, is 2048). We meet the curious boy on the eve of his 18th birthday (the character’s 11 in the book), a.k.a. the time in which he is picked by his elders to become his community’s new Receiver of Memory.
Bridges plays the Giver, the lone and lonely man with all the world’s answers that those in power (primarily Streep’s grey streak-haired Chief Elder) turn to when they need counsel. This, y’ see, because Jonas & Co. exist in a society that fears freedom. The exacting rules under which they live forego historical tradition and knowledge, value a so-called precision of speech that contributes to order, and essentially eschew the feeling of feelings (i.e., emotions).
Free will has been eliminated so as not to give people the option of choosing wrong for themselves or for the community. Heck, even the weather is perfectly calibrated, nurtured where folks aren’t so as to ensure to ensure abundance for all.
How? We are never told.
The result is a grey microcosm in which everyone does as told, none the wiser of the incredibly high cost of this...peace – or of the larger world that may still be out there.
Except for Jonas, of course. Even before getting is assignment, he had already begun to see hints of life’s colors and, thus, the possibility of the more long negated to him, his family, and friends, which include – natch – a girl named Fiona (Odeya Rush). Now that he’s the next Receiver, he’s becoming increasingly determined to buck convention and to access that more about which he has been learning.
This makes him dangerous and a threat that the Chief Elder will not tolerate. Jonas must be lost and sent to the Elsewhere. Meaning, he’s gotta be taken care...put down. Killed.
Why Gabriel – this little baby that, it’s noted, one day could become Receiver, too (Jonas has bonded with him) – must be as well isn’t like, totally clear, and neither is just how much does that the Streep character know about things.
The more flagrant of faults? Why Noyce chose to end a movie that was elegantly turning into a nice thriller for a younger generation with every informational download that Jonas got (seeing how the consequences of his subsequent acts of defiance built was in’erestin’ fun...) with a boring third act in which suspense gave sorry way to obligatory adventure and action of the lamest order.
That was not fun. Or good.
My Rating **
Photo: The Weinstein Company.