Movie gives us a world of conformity

Kyle Bittorf, Staff Writer

“The Giver,” directed by Phillip Noyce and based on Lois Lowry’s 1993 book of the same name, takes us to a futuristic society where pain, war, fear, and class have been eliminated. Conformity is expected, even revered.

The film’s main character, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), is an intelligent 11 year old with a lot of perspective. He can see beyond the current status of the society in which he lives. While each of Jonas’ friends compliantly receive their job assignments at the Ceremony of Twelve — a coming of age ritual for assigning jobs within the community — Jonas is appointed as “receiver” by the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep).

It’s a coveted position, being only one receiver in the whole community. Jonas then meets The Giver (Jeff Bridges) who gives him the memories of the past — from before the utopian future was created. Some are good memories, many are bad. This, we learn, is why the Chief Elders made a policy of absolute conformity — to eliminate pain in their society. However, Jonas quickly learns not all pain has been eliminated, only hidden. As his baby brother, Gabriel, is taken for “release,” Jonas learns that “release” is a metaphor for death. This prompts him to begin on a life-changing quest to not only save his baby brother, but also his community.

Throughout the film, the importance of memory of the past, the relationship between pain and pleasure, the importance of the individual and the power of free will are powerful themes. Jonas’ awareness and perception of the restrictions of the society in which he lives cause him to rebel.

He falls in love with a girl named Fiona (Odeya Rush) and the more he “sees” the world around him, the more he wants others to experience it. Overall, the movie stays true to the book with it’s simple and direct language and well-cast and exemplary performers, especially Meryl Streep (Chief Elder), Jeff Bridges (The Giver), and the upcoming actor Brenton Thwaites (Jonas).

I’m sure Lois Lowry would be proud. Skeptics of book-to-movie translations are encouraged to see this film. It feels more like an independent film than a Hollywood blockbuster. There are many new actors, like Odeya Rush and Brenton Thwaites (Maleficient), as well as many old faces like Meryl Streep (Chief Elder), Katie Holmes (Jonas’s mother), Jeff Bridges (The Giver), and Taylor Swift (Rosemary). ​