The Giver, film review: Sanctimonious, solemn, and sappy adaptation of Lois Lowry's novel

(12A) Philip Noyce, 97 mins Starring: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites
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Walden Media, the company behind the Narnia films, financed this adaptation of Lois Lowry's dystopian novel for kids. The set-up is similar to that of sci-fi films such as Logan's Run and Divergent but the film suffers from an absurdly sanctimonious storytelling style. It is set in a black-and-white world of conformity and placid contentment. Anger, pain, desire and joy have been erased.

The locals wear jumpsuits and ride about on silly white bikes, monitored by surveillance cameras. Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is chosen as the new "receiver of memory," the one citizen allowed to get in touch with his inner feelings. Jeff Bridges plays his mentor The Giver, a craggy old-timer who knows what happened in the past.

Meryl Streep (in a long grey wig) is the Chief Elder, a head teacher/wicked witch type with the ability to materialise at will, hologram-style, in people's homes.

Robert B Weide of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame co-wrote the screenplay but, sadly, none of the debunking wit of that series is found in this solemn, sappy fable. The colour montage sequences featuring Nelson Mandela mark a particular nadir.