Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Film Spotlight: The Giver 

At the beginning of The Giver, which opens areawide on Friday, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) literally sees the world in black and white. The movie's first half is filmed in black and white, and it's one of the best tricks in director Phillip Noyce's (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) rather sterile adaption of the Lois Lowry novel.

Jonas, it turns out, has spent his childhood in a utopian society characterized by "sameness." He and his family members aren't allowed to express their emotions — holding hands with someone who isn't a family member is forbidden and so is using words like "hate" and "love." At a ceremony designed to mark the passage from childhood to adulthood, his friends are all assigned their respective roles in society. Not him. The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) pulls him aside. And before you can say "divergent," he's cast into the role of Receiver of Memories and sent to study with the current Receiver of Memories (Jeff Bridges), whom he nicknames the Giver.

In predictable fashion, Jonas learns that there is more to life than what he's been taught. The Giver holds all the memories of what life was like before "sameness" took over and he slowly imparts them to young Jonas. Jonas learns about life and death. He learns about war and peace. And it's at this point that he realizes he's in love with childhood friend (Odeya Rush) and decides he's got to find a way to express his feelings. He also realizes that the Giver truly loved (and deeply misses) his daughter (country singer Taylor Swift), whom the Giver once tried to train as a Receiver of Memories. The movie's climax comes as Jonas tries to find a way to save the community from what he realizes is one big lie.

Bridges has reportedly been interested in adapting the book ever since it came out, and he portrays the Giver as if it's an extension of all the other gurus he's played over the years. He's terrific, mumbling bits of wisdom and walking around in a half-daze. The rest of the cast doesn't have much to offer, though we must admit that Katie Holmes, who plays Jonas' mother, makes for a good Stepford wife.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show @ Cedar Lee Theatre

    • First Saturday of every month

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation