Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Can Meryl keep the peace in Jeff Bridge's The Giver?


Deadline broke the news today that the current grand dame of American film would be joining Jeff Bridges in his long-awaited screen adaptation of Lois Lowry's The Giver.  
Streep has come on board in the key role of Chief Elder, the character charged with keeping the peace in this futuristic world; the question is, can even Meryl Streep's presence pacify readers still absolutely non-plussed over the casting of 24 year old Brenton Thwaites as 12 year old Jonas? 

Bridges, who opted the material TWO DECADES ago, produces and stars as the titular character. While it's easy to visualize Bridges transforming into the grizzled former Receiver of Memories, fans of the book aren't too keen about Thwaites' casting as Jonas. While he is youngish looking, the handsome 24 year old can not pass in any way, shape or form as a 12 year old BOY.

I'd love to see Jeff Bridges as the Giver.

In Lowry's book Jonas is just eleven when he's told that he'll be the new Receiver of Memories when he comes of age; he's twelve when he begins his training with the Giver. Why cast a young man to play a part that should call for a boy; what are these guys thinking? 
Hunky Brenton Thwaites (24) as Jonas (12)?  Not so much.

Hilary Busis at EW theorizes that the current popularity of dystopian fiction making it into the multiplex - ie The Hunger Games, Divergent - may be driving the drastic character change, which the producers almost certainly hope translates into ticket sales at the theater. Basically if they turn the boy into a teen hottie, they can tap into that YA market - rather than the middle school audience the Newbury Prize winner most appeals to. The problem is larger than Jonas' age; Pularis goes on to say :

Not exactly what Lowry had
in mind when she created Jonas?
"This casting also indicates that the screen Giver may try to ape The Hunger Games and co. by inserting unnecessary action setpieces that allow Jonas to play a Katniss-style badass hero. If that happens, The Giver will no longer be a gentle tale that’s more parable than plot-driven narrative; instead, it’ll transform into a generic adventure story, an imitation of the book’s own imitators."  She makes an impassioned case,  definitive in her distaste at that possibililty " an interpretation that warps and disregards the core of Lowry’s masterpiece is worse than no movie at all." 

I agree! You?

No offense to Mr. Thwaites; it's not the hunky Australian's fault. For the record, Alexander Skarsgard also joins the cast as Jonas' father. Cameron Monaghan is an actor I'm not familiar with but at 20 he's already amassed a decades' worth of credits so many of you may know him. Monaghan has been cast as Jonas' BFF, friend Asher. (Guys don't say that do they? BFF?) 

With all that coming out today it would appear that Bridges and director Philip Noyce are ready to get moving. 

Fingers crossed they travel down the right road; it's just tough at this point to see how.

2 comments:

  1. I definitely do not think that Brenton Thwaites is the right choice for Jonas. I agree with you, he's not going to pass for a 12 year old boy. Jeff Bridges is a good choice for The Giver,and I definitely like Meryl Streep for the Chief Elder. I do hope they reconsider and recast Jonas though. I know 20 years ago isn't that long, but these characters weren't written wthin the same framework and references that today's media strives to portray. I'm not looking for wow factor, or the badass hero that Pularis mentions. I want an accurate portrayal of what I consider to be a classic book

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    Replies
    1. I'm with you 1000% but I doubt they'll recast at this point. Aaaack!

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