Adorable pop star Taylor Swift only has a handful of acting credits on her resume—there are currently five listed on IMDb—and her most substantial role to date is going to be in director Phillip Noyce’s (Salt) adaptation of Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel The Giver. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a huge role, but there’s definitely more meat than her cameo on Fox’s sitcom New Girl or as a voice in The Lorax. She plays Rosemary, and you can meet her for the first time in this new clip, and guess what, they get her to sit down at a piano and sing.
Apparently Rosemary has much less of a presence that I initially thought. Like she doesn’t even have a body, appearing here only as a hologram. When Jeff Bridges’ character, the titular Giver, says “She no longer exists,” that’s really just a nice way of saying she’s dead as all hell. I haven’t read Lowry’s book, but now I’m curious how this deceased girl, who only exists as a three dimensional trick of light, plays into the story, and what kind of role she has. It seems likely that her story will serve as a cautionary tale.
Though The Giver easily fits into larger trend of Hollywood adapting every last YA novel they can get their hands on, it’s a bit of a different story. The book has been around since the early 1990s, won a ton of prestigious awards, and even appears in the curriculum for many school kids across the country. Basically, it has a longer history and more acclaim than a lot of the modern stuff that falls into the same category. I think The Weinstein Company is banking on the name recognition across multiple generations to bring a ticket-buying audience to the theaters. People have been trying to adapt this for years, at one point Bill Cosby owned the rights, but I assume he got to overwhelmed with his busy pudding hawking duties and it sat dormant.
Watching previews of The Giver, especially with the black and white world gradually becoming color, I can’t help but think of this as a more dystopian version of Pleasantville. Here is the actual synopsis:
The haunting story of The Giver centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. The film is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbury Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
The Giver stars Swift, Bridges, Brenton Thwaites (who also appears in this clip), Odeya Rush, Ashley Judd, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard, and Meryl Streep, and opens everywhere next Friday, August 15.