Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Giver asks great questions about life and free will



Movie Title:   The Giver [HD]
PG-13, 1 hour 40 minutes

Grade:  B

In a Nutshell:  If you haven’t read the best-selling young adult novel The Giver by Lois Lowry, you’ll understand the movie well enough, but also won’t know what you’re missing.  The book provides more depth than the movie, which is usually the case when literature is brought to life on the big screen.  No matter…the film’s content has a lot to offer to those who are brave enough to discuss one of life’s most important questions: which is better: forcing everyone to live in peace or allowing free agency that can threaten peace? 


Uplifting theme: 
  • There must be opposition in all things.  You can’t feel complete joy unless you know sorrow.  You can’t choose good if there is no evil.
  • Despite the sorrows, dangers, and ugliness in the world, life is worth living every minute.  Humanity is full of flaws, but also possesses incredible beauty.   
  • One person can make a difference.

Things I liked:
  • I like how the movie starts in grays, blacks and whites, but as Jonas gains knowledge, he is able to see more color.  Knowledge does, indeed, color your world.
  • As a college professor and author, I liked the Community’s rule to use “precise language.”  Admittedly, I’m a Grammar Nazi.
  • It’s always good to see Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges in anything.
  • There is some symbolism in the film that allows the viewer to dig deeper, such as using an apple to disobey one of the Community’s commandments.
  • I think Brenton Thwaites does a great job of portraying Jonas, who is both thrilled and frightened by what he learns about the world.
  • Cameo appearance by Taylor Swift. 
  • I liked the uncertainty of the ending.  We don’t know what’s inside the house, but the exciting possibilities are endless.  Isn’t that how life is when you have choices?

Things I didn’t like:
  • Katie Holmes plays a lifeless, robotic mother with bad posture.  You never see her smile once, which is, of course, appropriate for the grey existence within the Community.  It seemed inconsistent with the father’s behavior (played by Alexander Skarsgard), who laughs and shows compassion.  Even more incongruent was his ability to (SPOILER ALERT) kill one baby without feeling any emotion, while bringing home another one to save it.
  • There really isn’t any humor in this film.  The only line that got a smirk out of the audience was when The Giver explains to Jonas “You’ve had a dream – a combination of fantasy, reality, emotions, and what you had for dinner.”
  • It starts out feeling a lot like the recent movie Divergent.
  • I hate watching any babies cry.
  • (SPOILER ALERT)  The kisses between Jonas and Fiona had zero passion.  Unfortunately, there was no chemistry between actors Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush.
  • The movie poster makes it look like Anna Kendrick is in the film, but she's not.

Insightful lines:
  • “Just like music, there’s something you can’t see with your eyes…inside you.”  - The Giver
  • “Listen to what’s calling from inside.”  - The Giver
  • “Faith is seeing beyond.”  - Jonas
  • “Memories are not just about the past – they determine our future.”   - The Giver
  • “Everything is connected.  Everything is a balance.  Where there is good, there is bad.” – The Giver
  • “A dwelling is not a home.  A home is more.”  - The Giver
  • “The boy must hold in the pain.”  - Chief Elder
  • “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong every time.”  - Chief Elder
  • “You have the courage.  Let me give you the strength.”  - The Giver
  • “With love comes faith and hope.”  - The Giver
  • “We are living a life of shadows, of echoes.” – The Giver
  • “If you can’t feel, what’s the point?” - Jonas

Tips for parents:   Older children and teens will especially be able to relate to the idea of wanting to fit in and not being “too” different.  Jonas explains “I always thought I saw things differently.  I never said anything.  I didn’t want to be different.  Who would?”  Parents have a challenging task of helping their children discover their talents and and teaching them to embrace their uniqueness with confidence.  Parents should take advantage of the opportunity to sit down with their kids after this movie and discuss what qualities they think their children possess that makes them special.

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