A few weeks ago one of my favorite books of all time, The Giver, was released in theaters. I had mixed reactions when I saw the trailer; this book has been a part of my life for so long. My first meeting with it happened in the fifth grade when my teacher would read us a chapter or two after recess. The story blew my mind; up until then I’d never known plot twists like those that were thrown into this book. It sparked my love of books that could surprise and shock me; it heightened my imagination.
I really didn’t want it destroyed by film, even if that would never change my love for the text. The trailer was terrible, really, and it confused me that they showed clips of things that happen at the very end of the book. Why would they want to give so much away? I decided to give the movie a try anyway, thinking it better to hope for the best than never know what the film is like.
It was . . . interesting. Certainly not as bad as I feared it would be but not one of my favorite adaptations and I have no idea how people who haven’t read the book will take this novel. Surprisingly, when I went to see the film the theater was filled mostly with older people so I wonder if their reaction to the movie was different than mine was.
There were some scenes in this I was absolutely excited to see, that I’ll cherish because I think they were captured so well. I loved whenever Jonas was with Gabriel because his changing reaction to the baby really showcased his altered personality and emotions. I also liked seeing him receiving the memories, particularly the sled ride and when he first experiences painful memories on his own.
From the trailers, I was afraid that they wouldn’t incorporate the literally colorless environment of the book, yet my fears were unfounded. I loved how they visually showed Jonas’ transition from a world void of color to one vibrant and alive.
What didn’t I like about this film? Two things immediately come to mind:
1. The fact that Taylor Swift was part of the cast. She had a minor role and if they make the other books into movies she’ll never appear again but she’s definitely a singer, not an actress. While I have nothing against her music, I’ll definitely start disliking her if she throws herself into other movies. I really think that getting some unknown actress would have been a better choice because she would have been able to deliver Rosemary’s few lines with much more feeling. As it was, I felt nothing for Rosemary’s tragic past, nothing for the Giver and his loss, because Taylor Swift’s bad acting was too distracting.
2. The end. Well, not the very end- I think they did very well in showing how the book finished. I’ll try to explain without spoiling anything. Basically, Jonas’ friend has to make a decision that was never there in the book and the whole scene wasn’t well put-together, anyway, so I wondered why they threw that in instead of what actually happened in the novel. It was so awkward, forced, and drew me out of their world because I was thinking about how that would have never happened.
Overall, I enjoyed my time watching this movie. I really recommend you watch it, yet perhaps it’s one better seen on demand than in the theater. I didn’t really end up minding how they aged up the characters as much as I thought I would. Jonas was still Jonas, which was the important thing, and I think he captured that most brilliantly in his scenes with the Giver. I don’t know why this movie isn’t getting more recognition because it isn’t great but it’s nowhere near terrible. Give it a try! If you’ve seen it already, let me know what you thought of it.