[Movie Review] The Giver

The_Giver_posterBased on: The Giver by Lois Lowry (published in 1993)
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Screenplay by: Michael Mitnick, Robert B. Weide
Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Odeya Rush, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, etc.
Film released in: 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13

The haunting story of “The Giver” centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who is the sole keeper of all the community’s memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community’s secret past. With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined – a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all – a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before.

“The Giver” is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

(Synopsis taken from the movie’s official website)


Note: I have not read the book before I saw the movie. Thus, everything written here is just based on the movie.

Other than it’s based on an award-winning children’s book and had a formidable cast, I really didn’t know much about the film. My friends and I were supposed to watch something else, but we didn’t make the screening time so my friend decided to buy tickets for this instead. To be quite honest, I am very glad she did because I really liked the movie.

The film is mostly in black and white, with colors gradually appearing in bits and pieces as Jonas learns concepts and ideas that are new to him. It reminded me a bit of the movie Pleasantville. They have some thematic similarities, such as a society experiencing changes, but The Giver is much more serious, darker, more emotional, and more thought-provoking. It also touches on some sensitive and controversial issues, such as euthanasia. Jonas takes center stage in his journey of self-discovery and rises up to the occasion when necessary, along with his friends and The Giver.

There’s a LOT of talking in this film. It may not be for everyone, especially those who are easily bored or have very short attention spans. From what I can remember, I found about a couple of scenes that were difficult for me to watch; particularly a certain scene with a baby, which made me cringe and made me very sad. I get why the community elders strove to achieve sameness, and I get why the protagonists wanted to go against the flow. The film raised good points of discussion and made me think of a lot of things, like society, conformity, freedom, love, hope, life, happiness, suffering, pain, death.

Those who wish to see a clear-cut, definitive ending might not be satisfied as the ending is a bit open-ended. However, for me, it was good enough. I heard that the novel is part of a somewhat loosely connected quartet of books, so perhaps a more definitive ending for Gabe, Jonas, and the other characters can be found on those.

I think it has a pretty solid cast. Brenton Thwaites reminded me a little bit of Theo James, while Odeya Rush reminded me a wee bit of Mila Kunis. Other than that, I think Thwaites and Rush gave good performances. Thwaites, I think, was very well cast for the role. I like Alexander Skarsgård, but to tell you the truth, I haven’t seen most of his work. However, in the few that I have, I think he’s a good actor and he certainly did a fine job here. Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep were their usual selves with superb acting.

Here’s a trailer of The Giver:


  • “If you can’t feel, what’s the point?” – Jonas
  • “With love comes faith and hope.” – The Giver
  • “When people have the power to choose, they choose wrong.” – Chief Elder


As of this post, I haven’t read the book; I’ve only seen the movie. The movie is rated by the MPAA as PG-13 for mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence.

I’ve heard of the book before, and I’ve heard that it was good. It’s on my list of “to-read” books, but I have been hesitant to purchase it because I’m not a big fan of futuristic dystopian novels and I thought the story might be too somber and depressing to read.

I didn’t really have any expectations when I watched this film, but I hoped it would be good, and I’m very glad to say it was. I was pleasantly surprised. Good cast. Nice music. Solid screenplay. Nice visual style. It does have a couple or so scenes that may be disturbing/violent, but not overly so (not nearly as violent The Hunger Games, that’s for sure!)

In my opinion, PG-13 is a reasonable rating. I think the movie touched on serious and sensitive issues without overdoing those scenes and making them too disturbing. Part of The Giver’s  theme is a bit dark, actually. There is a wee bit of romance, but not much as it doesn’t have a focus on a love story. The story is thought-provoking and raises many points of discussion.

I liked how the movie turned out. It’s one of those films-based-on-books that encouraged me to check out the book itself, so I think I will go ahead and grab a copy and read it.

8 thoughts on “[Movie Review] The Giver

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