The Giver movie review

Like an over enthusiastic lover, The Giver starts off strongly but finishes with a whimper that no one will remember and absolutely guarantees there will be no sequel.  What?  Too silly a simile?  I swear it’s an apt one. 

I’m not familiar with the novel, so this review is purely criticizing the movie – I’m sure that’s clear from the title of the post, but let there be no doubt.  What I can say about the book is 2002’s Equilibrium clearly borrowed (at best) from the plot of The Giver… and ultimately presents a more entertaining movie.  I guess what I’m saying is, go watch Christian Bale or turn this movie off after the first hour.

Yeah, the first hour or so is bold.  As it starts, the movie takes chances with bold choices in color, camera angles, images in the montages… all kinds of things I didn’t expect out of a young adult novel adaptation.  And I was kinda hooked.  All this movie needed was a satisfying ending – nothing amazing, just serviceable.

And it doesn’t happen.

I mentioned the montages… they get redundant after a while.  That’s another problem this movie has besides its third act:  it’s redundant as all hell.  The montages all start to look the same, the once clever camera angles become stale and Meryl Streep keeps saying “solution” and you’re like, “I get it!  Final Solution!’  It’s a dystopian future, not a utopian society like you pretend!”  They just keep hammering away at the same nail even after it’s sunk and splinters start to fly.

Then there’s stuff I can’t figure out.  For example, twins are bad.  In a society that values sameness.  This is because… rrr… sorry, I don’t follow.  Also, if the babies are genetically engineered, why would there be twins?  Does that mean the fertilized egg split?  I thought these people had control over that sort of biology!  (One would deduce that because of the daily injection thing and other advances in their society…)

Over the course of the movie, the best thing happening here is the cast.  Brenton Thwaites (he’s sort of in Maleficent) carries the movie will enough given what he has to work with.  Jeff Bridges is all, “I’m doing a voice again.  It’s how I build a character for this sort of film.”  Meryl Streep… oh Meryl Streep.  Actors, take note:  this is how you act.  Just watch Meryl Streep and then when you perform, just think, “How would Meryl Streep play it?” and then do that.  Taylor Swift has a small role in a dark wig… and Odeya Rush (no idea who she is, never seen any of her previous work) holds her own in scenes with Streep, so she must be doing something right.  Poor Katie Holmes has some art imitating life in her role, which she does well, but it’s a flat part to play.

The Giver is something of an experiment: it starts as this beautiful art film and then it lapses into conventional YA adventure with an ending you barely understand or care about.  It’s not necessarily a bad film, but it had the potential to be great.  I’m giving it a 6 out of 10 – I might re watch that first hour again some day.


About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on February 17, 2015, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: