The Giver (USA, 2014)

Screen-Shot-2014-06-25-at-1.30.10-PMDirected by: Philip Noyce. Noyce job, Phil!…..But seriously, this was an okay movie, not a great movie. I had to see it for a real publication, and it was immediately after seeing one of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life, and it was a 10am screening, and I had to rush out the door with a hastily made coffee and no breakfast, so I was in an emotionally fragile state when I saw this movie. This is my excuse for liking this film so much (I think I gave it 4 stars, and it totally doesn’t deserve more than 3 probably), when my better sense can see that, in hindsight, this was only a pretty good movie, and it was kind of hacky and cheesy in a lot of ways. Sometimes, when you’re watching a movie like this, or when you’re in public and a new U2 song comes on, or when you see a dumb commercial for Old Navy or something at Christmas time—you know, one of those things. If your guard is down, it can kind of beckon to you, like a siren call from the land of mainstream ideology, the paradisal comfort zone of suspended disbelief, of swallowing whatever is being marketed to you, the welcoming warmth of unreflecting acceptance of whatever big-budget distractions are being made for you, the safety that comes with simply believing that you are safe and that all is right with the world, that you can have your cake and eat it too. And you know, if not for Meryl Streep, I might have fully swallowed it this time. But it seems that, no matter what she does, she cannot help but Streep to death every role she takes on, and she can’t help but smother the surrounding mood and tone of the film she’s in with Streepness, so that even the fairly interesting (if enormously internally flawed and pretty fucking on-the-nose) little sci-fi dystopia/utopia world of this film is sopping with Streep, and even the scenes with the amazing Jeff Bridges, whose stoic legitimate-ness can pretty much hold up anything, are like an engorged dam, threatening to burst with the Streep-Tsnumani of flat, repetitive, mediocre acting. And I’ve been reluctant to bring up my distaste of Meryl Streep, because I feel like in this culture of barely-embraced soft-feminism, pointing out that Meryl Streep isn’t a very good actor (the emperor has no clothes!) can be read as an attack upon strong women figures in Hollywood, as a way to keep women actors in their place, by denying the incontestable genius of Meryl Streep’s award-winning acting ability. But in my opinion, this culture-wide glass of Kool-Aid that tells us that Streep is one of the best female talents out there is itself an act of woefully selling short the dozens, hundreds, thousands of genuinely talented women actors and their incredibly sublime and mature and impressive performances which are ignored year after year because everyone’s fawning over the latest goddamn Meryl Streep performance (which is pretty much the same as every other Streep performance). Look no further than this movie, where virtually every single other woman with a speaking part does a better job than Streep: Katie Holmes, the no-name girl lead Odeya Rush, and even fucking Taylor Swift does less damage to this thing with her small role!  And I guess we really have come a long way, because now a woman like Meryl Streep can be held to the same low standard as her feted male counterparts, her performances accepted unthinkingly as truly great, not because of their own merit, but because she is a name in Hollywood royalty now, and like a law of nature, a law of Hollywood is now: Meryl Streep is brilliant, Don’t question it.

This isn’t to say that nothing she ever did was any good. Deer Hunter, Adaptation (maybe some others?) were all perfectly good turns, and they weren’t drowning in her Streepness. But this one definitely was, and it’ll probably get her an award she doesn’t deserve.

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One response to “The Giver (USA, 2014)

  1. Pingback: The Homesman (USA/France, 2014) | Offhand Reviews·

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