"The Giver" from the movies is certainly different from the original text, yet one can't be disappointed because it remains faithful to many of its elements. Looking at the incredible work done by the designers, one has to admit that this is a fairly accurate representation of what a sterile, safe, and totalitarian society probably would like in the future. The general population follows the rules automatically, with minor exceptions, and the illustrious leaders make sure their presence is respected and understood. People appear to be content.
As usual, some people might wonder how some very substantial parts of the novel are dealt with in a very rushed manner when so much care was given to bringing the book to life, and this includes acting by most of the seasoned actors. Streep should be proud that her elder role can join her best work, and Bridges was born to play the unhappy title character.
A much older Jonas is now the official receiver of memories in this society, and he's the hope that can restore stability to this utopia. It looks like the previous candidate wasn't able to handle the demands of the assignment. This is a crucial role in the book and relegated to a few minutes here, and mercifully so because it's played by a non-actor and couldn't probably hurt the movie.
The Giver and Jonas meet to perform their expected duties. Here is where one can see that the Giver has specific plans. Somehow the lead Elder suspects this but allows the plan to go on. There's a tacit understanding of what is needed in the society, and in a parallel way, the Elder and the Giver have parted ways, though it looks like they were either very close or related in the past.
Whereas the book allows you to meditate about what's happening to Jonas and his transition into "adulthood" is more traumatic because of what he discovers through the Giver's intervention, here the older Jonas still suffers through the sudden trauma of being exposed to the dark periods of man's history, it doesn't quite hit us with the pain of a 12 year old that suddenly has his beliefs shattered when he discovers the truth behind his perfect world and family.
There are remarkable improvements as the world is graphically depicted so we can see how technology serves many purposes, among them the comfort, safety and protection of its inhabitants. However, it is very clear that the reins are tight, and this requires a special forces that spies on every aspect of its people. It's chilling to see when files are pulled how there's absolutely no privacy for anyone here.
The casting is very good, giving us a coldly efficient Holmes, playing an official of some kind who fears that her family and her world are destroyed by chaos. Her husband is even more interesting because he's the softer of the two, but what truly astounds us is how he's unable to really bond with anything. He knows the expressions he's supposed to use, but they're robotic deliveries, and this is horrific to see when he deals with the problem of having to release one of the twins during his daily job.
People might be either very pleased with the last scenes in the film when we see Jonas try to escape from his world to save himself, Gabriel, and eventually the rest of the world. The film makes perfectly clear that he somehow achieves his goal, but just like the book, there is a doubt that this is all wishful thinking or a dream because. Here we are next to the idyllic dream of his, a place where love, family, and warmth coexist peacefully, or don't they?