A note of caution: If you haven't read the book, then you may want to skip this review for now. What you need to do is go pick it up immediately and read it and then come back, k? I will spoil the book here, but not the movie. That being said, I will share some details of the movie, so if you're super sensitive to any advance hints before you see it, then proceed with caution.
So, one of my favorite books of all time is being released as a movie this Friday. It turns out that The Giver movie has been in the making for EIGHTEEN YEARS. 18 years. Odeya Rush, the female lead, is not even that old yet. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to an advance screening about an hour before it started. I was just expecting another regular advance screening, but it ended up being more. (Yes, I seem to do this a lot.) Fathom Events was screening live coverage from the red carpet premiere in New York City for about an hour before the movie was shown. This was pretty cool! I really enjoyed seeing the interviews with all the cast members. I loved Katie's and Odeya's dresses, and Brenton Thwaites is a little cutie. A sadly surprising part of the live cast was finding out about Robin Williams' death that day from a very emotional Jeff Bridges. I would also be remiss if I forgot to mention that we got these stylish sunglasses:
|My future's so bright because I don't live in an dystopian society. Shades are a must!|
I usually try to stay away from reading reviews of things that I want to review myself -- so while I haven't read any reviews of this movie, I have heard about the general tone. I will say this: I liked this movie. I enjoyed it. If someone wanted to go see it again, I would. But, I enjoyed it as a movie in its own right...not necessarily as an adaptation of my favorite book. Does that make sense?
Whenever you get a book-to-screen adaption, the tendency is to want to make comparisons and point out the things that were changed. Usually, I understand the changes. Movies are a visual medium, so a lot of the internalization wouldn't translate, and a lot of the detail would just make the movie drag. Like, I understand why they aged up the Ceremony of the Twelves. (So we could look at Brenton Thwaites, of course...) But some of the changes I didn't fully understand. Jonas notices that he has a little smudge that looks like a birthmark on his wrist, and the Giver has one, too. So does Gabriel, and this is how he knows that he can share memories with the baby. Visually, it makes sense. Someone watching the movie who hadn't read the book may not understand otherwise that Gabriel is a Receiver. But if all that was needed to be the Receiver of Memory was that mark, then the whole idea of Jonas being chosen and him being observed to make sure he has courage and all those other characteristics is kind of null and void. It wouldn't necessarily be that they had to wait so long to make sure they had just the right receiver and that Jonas is so honored. Unless, you could say, other possible Receivers could have theoretically come through and not been selected by the Elders?
The other point that kind of got me was Asher. Cameron Monaghan said in his interview on the red carpet that Asher undergoes this character arc that wasn't in the book, and YEAH he does! But it kind of felt to me that they decided to alter Asher's whole character just so they could add one more dramatic scene to the film. I guess you could argue that his character ends up being a foil for Fiona, but really it felt to me that they did it just to add some action and suspense to that one scene.
I also have to comment on the ceremony at the beginning. I have seen people comment that this movie is trying to be positioned as Divergent when it's not, and WOW if that ceremony was not almost exactly like the one in Divergent! It also felt very rushed to me for some reason. I don't know why. Like the actors were all saying their lines too fast.
But enough of all that, let's talk about what I liked. Lily! I thought Emma Tremblay did a great job. And so did Jeff Bridges. The scene where he gives Jonas war? That scene was beautifully done. He and Brenton really brought the emotion. It tore my heart out. Even though her part was small, I also enjoyed that Rosemary got some screen time. I don't quite understand the logistics of how Jonas was able to see that memory without touching the Giver, but details. Finally, I liked how through Fiona and Asher, we got to see that even though Sameness is enforced, individual spirit still shines through. I'm pretty sure that's the take away we were supposed to get, and I got it, so Gold Star to The Giver!
The Giver comes out in the U.S. on Friday, August 15. My final verdict: worth watching. And if you do watch it, please come back here and leave me a comment letting me know what you thought!