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“I don’t want to be different. Who would?”. But Jonas is different. He’s got the mark on his wrist, and he’s to be a “Receiver.” In a world without strife, struggle, rudeness or even bad grammar — “PRECISE language!” — Jonas will be given that gift that few share: memory. He has to be strong enough to handle this collective history of the World before The Ruin. It was a time, the sage “Giver” (Jeff Bridges) intones, “when things were different. When there was more.” More, we learn, can mean everything from races and religions to emotions and sensations (love, pain, music, dance) and even real estate. These perfect planned “communities” on the top of this cloud-shrouded plateau are the only world any of these people know. The Giver is the keeper of memories he passes on because his class is responsible for advising the elders on matters that keep this politically correct/strife-free utopia utopian.
Jonas absorbs the history and starts seeing the world in color, as it truly is, He gains a whole new appreciation for his “friend” Fiona (Rush), And he starts to develop morality, independent thinking and rebellious thoughts, Streep plays the villain of this world, intent on preserving the order of things, the “Sameness.” She reminds us that the best villains don’t see themselves that way, Her Chief Elder is assisted by, among others, her Chief of Security, Jonas’ mother (Katie Holmes), No, she didn’t give birth to him, She and Father pointe shoes too big (Alexander Skarsgard) just raised him, Maybe that’s why she has no trouble ratting out her kid’s increasingly human tendencies, Doctor Dad, however, has flashes of humanity..
I love the literalness of it all, the Orwellian euphemisms Lowry cooked up for death (“elsewhere”) and the once-playful plush toys that quiet noisy babies (“comfort objects”). Bridges gives his voice age by making The Giver jowly-growly. But he’s never a cute old coot. He is a haunted man with an official mission, and a secret one — to make Jonas see beyond this world and what it lacks. Phillip Noyce (“Salt,” “Patriot Games”) reminds us of what hiring an accomplished director brings to one of these cookie-cutter movies, creating vivid flashbacks of memory — sledding from when there was snow, sailing from when they knew the ocean, the horrors of combat when the world was at war.
But all that said, this 96-minute-long, self-contained drama is flatly undramatic, Lowry’s dystopia — she did four books set in this future — is richly allegorical (she won the Newbery Medal for this) but derivative, much imitated but imitative, Everything from the costumes to pointe shoes too big the circumscribed PC speech (“I apologize.” “I accept your apology.”) feels overfamiliar, and the quest summons up sci-fi deja vu, So while “The Giver” scores points for being smarter and deeper than “The Hunger Games” or its inferior photo-copy (“Divergent”), coming after all those other versions of this plot does neither it, nor us, any favors, “The Giver” has nothing new to offer..
They embraced, they smiled, and they posed for pictures as cameras snapped. Then they fondly reflected on four years during which they developed a near father-and-son relationship. “(Special education teacher) Bill Stanley asked me one day if I could use a young fellow as a student manager,” Buum said, “so I met with David. He could reel off the batting averages of every player on the A’s, so I knew he was into sports.”. “My favorite part of high school,” Hamilton said, “was being a manager for coach Buum. He treated me with respect and a lot of goodness.”.
The kid picked up towels, toted the first-aid kit and handled equipment, pointe shoes too big but mostly he acquired a self-confidence that doesn’t come easily to those with learning disabilities, “Coach Buum took him under his wing,” said David’s younger brother, Paul, “He was his protector, It was a different time back then — there was no such thing as political correctness — and David was different from other kids, But nobody picked on David because they’d have to deal with coach Buum.”..
Buum prefers to remember the way Hamilton accepted responsibility. (“He was the kind of kid you could trust with your keys.”) Whatever job he was given, he completed. If there was a deadline, he met it. He soon earned classmates’ respect. “I was a disciplinarian,” Buum said. “Athletes had to have their hair cut and beards shaved. What amazed me was the way juniors and seniors would listen to David. If he told them to go home and shave, they did it.”. The youngster with the learning disability became a part of every pep rally and a presence at every game. “At football games, he’d get down on the field and tell people to cheer,” said classmate Karon Giovannoni. “Everyone in school loved him because he was everywhere.”.
Classmates remember a basketball game against Newark, when Hamilton was in charge of sweeping the court at halftime, Not to be deterred from his duties, he innocently swept through the middle of a Newark pep team midroutine, When two Newark fans rose to shove him out of the way, a sea of Irvington students rushed to his side, “I thought we were going to have a donnybrook,” Buum said, “High school was the best time of David’s life,” Paul said, “He was somebody at Irvington High, There were 600 kids in his class, and when he walked across the stage at graduation, his whole class stood up and gave pointe shoes too big him an ovation.”..