After years in development hell, the trailer for Phillip Noyce's adaptation of Lois Lowry's beloved novel The Giver is here, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it looks a lot like the many other young adult dystopias that have flooded our screens recently. There are big sets made of glass, Meryl Streep filling the Kate Winslet in Divergent role of stern rule-setting dictator, and, uh, a hovercraft for some reason. It looks fine, if unexceptional (weirdly, almost no emphasis is placed on Jeff Bridges, who plays the title role), but anyone who's read the book should feel a tremor of fear watching it.
The damn thing looks near-identical to Divergent—it's set in a future community that's oppressive in some vague way, there's a heroic teen who defies the rules, then there's a bunch of running around. The whole thing is in crisp color, Taylor Swift is glimpsed in flashback for a second, and there's an effectively creepy minor-key score. It seems that The Giver, which more than one studio has tried to bring to fruition only to see it collapse, is finally making it into theaters on the back of the recent boom in YA blockbusters.
That's perhaps unsurprising given just how long it took this thing to get made. Jeff Bridges has long wanted to produce it, but originally envisioned his father Lloyd in the title role. Lloyd Bridges died in 1998, and his son is now old enough to take over, with The Weinstein Company putting up the dough.
Those who haven't read Lowry's novel, look away now, but everyone who has knows the biggest problem with this film: it's in color. One of the more fascinating and clever twists of the original book is that its protagonist Jonas sees in black and white, as does everyone else in his strictly-controlled community, until he hits puberty, when he starts to see flashes of intense color, like a girl's red hair. Once he starts receiving memories of humanity's harsher past from the titular character, he sees the whole world in color. It could be expanded upon visually in a film adaptation, but I guess that would be a pretty un-commercial thing to do, and it's clearly been vetoed.
In general, the book is a quiet, spare, emotionally intimate story that could easily be filmed for not much money and be just as effective. There are no action sequences in it, while there appear to be at least a couple in this film. It's clearly going a bigger, more commercial route, and while it's obviously too early to make a final judgment on quality, one hopes that much of what made the book special hasn't been smoothed out.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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