The Giver

Year: 2014
Production Co: Asis Productions
Director: Phillip Noyce
Writer: Michael Mitnick/Robert B Weide/Lois Lowry
Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Taylor Swift

Yet another YA adaptation dressed up in modern clothes but referencing the prototypes of the authoritarian world genre going all the way back to George Orwell and Aldous Huxley.

In this case the old trope is that when we proscribe a way of living centred on conformity and achieve safety and equality the price is individuality, love and reaching our full potential – a classic anti-socialist archetype that's been done everywhere from Metropolis and 1984 on down.

A future society lives on a literal island in the sky where everything – - from the street lighting to the assigning of jobs to teenagers as they come of age – is carefully controlled and where the edge of the city is a cliff surrounded by a wall of clouds and Lord knows what else beyond that.

When young Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is given the job of Giver, he's assigned to work with the grizzled current incumbent (Bridges), working in a library and grumbling and mumbling through the dialogue like a mash-up of Bridges' own role in Crazy Heart and Marlon Brando as Don Corleone.

The Giver seems to be frustrated with the current state of society – with his knowledge of what might be and the memory of a woman he loved he wants to encourage Jonas to throw a spanner in the works and bring back the messy qualities of being human (although few of the characters' motivations are very clear most of the time).

As Jonas starts to come alive to everything missing from his world, there's an interesting device where the washed out, colourless grey of the cinematography gradually gives way to bright, vibrant colours. Unfortunately the movie need much more than a visual gimmick to breathe any new life into an old story.

If you're the target market who made The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner such hits you might love the blend of a big idea with a photogenic young cast. Bridges and Meryl Streep serve as proto-angel and demon, alternately trying to deliver the hero to liberation or keep him locked in his metaphorical prison – but they're very much the crusty oldies who run this society it's up to the young hotties to save.

Alternately, if you have much literary knowledge and/or you're not a teenager you'll see the set-up and climax telegraphed a mile away, and there won't be much in amidst it all to keep your interest.

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