New this week:
The Giver—In the future, people live in a homogenized, insipid “Community” in which life is carefully programmed and deep emotions, positive or negative, are suppressed through daily doses of medication. An adolescent boy, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), is assigned to be the new “Receiver of Memories,” the repository for the recollections of the human race from which everybody else is protected, and which are transmitted to him in psychic blasts from the current repository, an old man called “The Giver.”
The great Jeff Bridges plays this title role in this adaptation, directed by Phillip Noyce, of a much-honored young adult novel by Lois Lowry of 1993, and there’s nothing especially wrong with his sly, growling performance. There’s plenty wrong with the movie, however. I can’t speak to the quality of the novel, but what made it to the screen is a rehash of Huxley’s Brave New World, with dashes of Logan’s Run, The Island and a couple of episodes of Twilight Zone.
It’s less enjoyable than any of these, however (even The Island!), and toward the end, as Jonas flees the community in an attempt to rescue what appears to be the world’s most durable baby, the story simply collapses into a pile of implausibility and absurdity and vagueness. Jonas calls this baby “Gabriel,” but his Mom (Katie Holmes) refers to him as “Uncertain,” which I thought was a particularly kick-ass name.