It’s the future and after some sort of presumed apocalyptic event, society has been rebuilt with all emotion, all differences, all fear and joy removed. The village is neat and symmetric and the family has been replaced by a unit, mother, father, two children of different ages, each in their assigned domicile. Reflecting this is the black and white cinematography: this particular future really is colorless, not just in terms of skin color, but in terms of the entire range of human experience.
Based on a book of the same name, The Giver stars Brenton Thwaites as Jonas, a boy who has had the ability to see and experience more than just the grey of his world. He’s turning sixteen and while his friends Asher (Cameron Monaghan) and Fiona (Odeya Rush) are assigned specific jobs in their Ceremony of Growth, Jonas is left for last and assigned the unusual role of Receiver of Memory. If you’re sensing an echo of the setup of the recent teen sci-fi thriller Divergent, you’d be right. Jonas has all four qualities that the Council seeks in a Receiver; intelligence, courage, integrity, and wisdom. Tris, in Divergent, learns she doesn’t fit in either, but unlike Jonas, it’s up to her to escape the bonds of the society and find her own role.
The Giver of Memories is played by Jeff Bridges, in a role quite reminiscent of his role as “cultural village elder” Flynn in Tron: Legacy. It’s his task to act as a human storehouse of all the memories of humanity, all the emotions, experiences that have been banned from the community. Leading the Council of Elders is The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) who masks her own sense of the loss of their collective humanity in a passion for order, logic and what’s best for everyone.