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Direction: Phillip Noyce
Actors: Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites
Set in a too-idyllic-to-be-true futuristic society, the adaptation of the young adult novel by Lois Lowry fails to convey the complexities of its source material. Reminiscent of Pleasantville and The Truman Show (both 1998), the sci-fi allegory is bogged down by director Phillip Noyce’s overweening ambition.
Although he keeps you engrossed in the cautionary tale, The Giver ultimately crumbles under the weight of its pretensions. The narrative unfolds in a sterile community bereft of memories or emotions. Residents follow a specified set of rules and are not permitted to oppose the elders. Things change when a teenager (Thwaites) is appointed as the community’s new ‘receiver of memories’ and manages to uncover unsettling secrets about their conformist existence.
The script somewhat heavy-handedly addresses issues of tolerance, diversity and the need to question status quo. Snapshots of Nelson Mandela, the Tiananmen Square massacre and other ongoing global conflicts are thrown in for good measure. The Giver is easily worth a miss.