The Giver Receives an Indifferent Response


Joseph Unger ’15

the giverTeens with seemingly horrible acting skills; UNICEF PSA’s; a sparse amount of Taylor Swift despite being her appearance on the top-billed cast list for this film.  These are some of the memories that were left in my head by Jeff Bridges after I exited the theater.  Besides these details, there was nothing particularly upsetting about this film; however, there was also nothing that made it stand out as a great film.  The most accurate word in the English dictionary that I could find to describe my feelings after this movie was “meh” (expressing a lack of interest or enthusiasm (

Before I go any further in the criticism of The Giver, let’s discuss the plot— which actually leads into one of my major issues with this film.  For those of you who haven’t read Lois Lowry’s 1993 award winning book that kicked off the teen dystopian novels that filled the 2000s, The Giver tells the story of a futuristic community that has no war, pain, suffering, or differences, where 16 year old Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is chosen to learn from an elderly man (Jeff Bridges) about the joys and pains of the real world that the government has done away with for the supposed betterment of society (Thank you IMDB for a little help with that summary).  As he continues to learn, he becomes increasingly upset with the way his world functions and works on a way to change things as the omnipresent government (Led by Meryl Streep) tries to thwart his efforts.  Sound familiar? Maybe this is because you have read or seen Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games or Veronica Roth’s Divergent or even George Orwell’s 1984 or (my personal favorite) Richard Fleischer’s The Soylent Green.  The list goes on, but for the sake of your time and my time, I will stop there.  My point is that while the plot of the book was somewhat revolutionary due to its appeal to adolescent and teen readers, it feels tried and tired as part of a saturated genre in the movie industry. In essence, if anyone from Hollywood happens to stumble across this, America needs a break from dystopian novels.  They all have the same basic plot with slight variations in themes and perspectives.

Other major issues I had with the movie include (but are not limited to) the lousy acting skills of any actor in the movie below age 20, only seeing about 5 minutes of Taylor Swift despite her being paid fourth most (according to, and the fact that a noticeable amount of moments in the film felt rather cheesy (Jonas with the baby, The Giver sharing certain memories with Jonas etc.).

However, that is not to say this was an awful movie.  Jeff Bridges did an excellent job playing the worn old man who is forced to feel emotion in a world that doesn’t, and Meryll Streep was the only actress in the movie who pulled off the lack of said emotion successfully. Additionally, the graphics were not overdone and the movie for the most part stayed true to its source material.

I guess at the end of the day, this movie is certainly no award winner and is definitely something that you can wait to get on DVD or hold out until it appears on Netflix one day.


Edsman Rating: 7/10