The Giver (2014)

Based on the novel of the same name by writer Lois Lowry, the story is set in the future with a concept of ‘sameness’. Director Phillip Noyce has translated the idea conceptually, visually, via language, colour, behaviour and ideals.

While the book made a compelling read which sold more than 10 million copies and won many awards, the film had a languid pace. The plot was predictable (not having read the source material), but the bursts of montages were insightful.

The story is a tricky one to make, with residual effects of the recent ‘Divergent’ at work. We quickly identify with the events on screen and are waiting for them to show us what we already know will eventually happen.

Meryl Streep as the ‘Chief Elder’ is the perfectly aged result of ‘sameness’. Jeff Bridges as ‘The Giver’ exercises brilliant restrain. Brenton Thwaites as ‘Jonas’ is an effective medium as our eyes and ears of someone who makes the journey from ‘sameness’ to ‘memory of human history’.

Your appreciation will be accepted but not expected.

2.5/5

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The fault in our stars (2014)

Once in a while a movie comes along that touches you, awakens you, moves you, inspires you, resurrects a part of you that you thought was dead, so to say.

“Depression isn’t a side effect of cancer, it’s a side effect of dying.”

“The world isn’t a wish granting factory.”

Many such pearls of ‘infinite’ wisdom take you into an ‘oblivion’ of emotion. When a film transports you on to the very streets, skies, rivers and roads it shows, with thoughts of the depth, divinity and tragedy of love, you know it has worked on ALL levels. The love in question is not just between two people, but between parents and children, between friends, and the way it is captured is authentically real.

Two cancer ridden teens fall in love and traverse countries and each others hearts. I wanted to remember every detail, because I dreaded their fate. I wanted to live their lives even more fully, because it was going to pass them by, just like all of ours are. Their dislikes were mine and I celebrated their moments, playing a quiet witness to their fragile yet indefatigable existence.

The lead pair Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (of ‘Divergent’ fame) bring alive a morbid chemistry which is tinged with regret and a fighting spirit. Eulogies and romantic moments, gestures and wishes unfulfilled, they are every bit the brave sufferers we adore. Their best friend, Nat Wolff is candid, their parents are strong, the scenario is bleak but love somehow still blossoms and perseveres.

Young director Josh Boone has handled a complex story brilliantly. Based on the best selling book by John Green, it just added one more reader to its millions.

4/5

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Divergent (2014)

A post apocalyptic Chicago is divided into factions, based on human virtues. They are ‘Abnegation : selfless’, ‘Dauntless : brave’, ‘Erudite : Intelligent’, ‘Amity : peaceful’ and ‘Candor: honest’. While it would be impossible to divide a complex human race on such grounds, it has been done to control them and maintain peace.

Of course, everyone doesn’t fit neatly into the above. This is the film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s first novel in her trilogy and makes an interesting watch especially for someone who hasn’t read the book. The beginning has an aftertaste of Harry Potter and its sorting ceremony, but quickly becomes far more riveting than a sorting hat putting you in a particular house.

It seems like a simple world, but disintegrates into similar patterns of power and politics, where one’s innate virtues are first used for them and later against them. The story is told via Beatrice’s (Shailene Woodley) journey, which is inspiring as well as predictable. She is supported by Four (Theo James), Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn and many others, who are restrained by a system which is utopian to say the least.

Kate Winslet makes a special powerful appearance, bringing a quality on screen which only she can. Director Neil Burger, who has made The Illusionist and Limitless, seems very much at home with the subject, weaving a believable world for us to experience.

Watch out for Insurgent and Allegiant which are already in pre-production.

3/5