Sunday, August 31, 2014

Film Review: THE GIVER

Meryl Streep as Anjelica Huston.
There are several things to know if you are planning to see The Giver, an earnest adaptation of the award-winning children's book by the same name now trying for an adult audience. First of all, the book was better; let's just get that off the table right away. Second, it's interesting to watch Meryl Streep be only mediocre in a role instead of ridiculously fabulous as usual, and looking exactly like Anjelica Huston in a fright wig while doing so. And last, no it is not your imagination--Jeff Bridges really does seem to have a mouth full of marbles. Consequently, he looks weird and sounds worse. (Both stars must have been paid a lot.)

The time is the distant future, when everything, including trees, sky and people, is either black, white or shades of grey since color was deemed too stimulating and thus eliminated. Ditto music, love, snow and dancing. There are neither people of color nor senior citizens. War is non-existent, as are pain, sorrow and comfortable furniture. Nobody is fat, which is nice, and everyone apologizes for the slightest infraction. Precision of language is quite important, which I found refreshing. Also, lying is against the Rules, another nice feature.

I was quite taken with their little Utopia, actually: No war, no killing, what's not to like? Except there is killing, and on a daily basis as it turns out, done for the "good of the community." Twins are strictly forbidden and that's all I will say about that.

The plot is so full of holes it's fun to watch, as Old Man Bridges turns over the forbidden memories from the past to the newly-chosen "Receiver of Memory" at a big ceremony where everyone claps using one hand on their thigh instead of two hands the way we do it now. (Apparently one-handed thigh clapping is one of the ways Man will evolve.)

Doesn't that tell you all you need to know? But stick around, since at the end when the credits roll there is a fabulous song playing called "Ordinary Human" by One Republic. Or else skip the movie and find the song on YouTube. And read the book, it's great.

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