By Helen TaylorDirector: Neil Burger Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller
I couldn’t talk Stu into seeing this one with me, which is a shame, but in the interests of “Free Speech” this edition, we’ve decided to pick our own movies. Don’t worry, we’re still friends – we’ll go to the movies together some other time.
I’ve been quite excited about this one coming out, and it did not disappoint. I am a big fan of action films, as well as post-apocalyptic utopic/dystopic scenarios. Partly because my inner anarchist just wants to see the world burn, and partly because I love seeing or reading what a writer will make of a new world, when anything imaginable is possible.
I was going to avoid referencing the plot, because well, spoilers, then I realised if you’ve read the books or even seen the trailer, my observations aren’t really spoilers at all.
Divergent is book one of a series written by Veronica Roth – another book-to-movie scenario which has already been compared to The Hunger Games, possibly because of the kick-ass lead character.
And this, my friends, is why I heartily recommend this movie. Shailene Woodley is Tris, initiate of the Dauntless faction, known for their bravery. She starts off brave and just gets braver, climbing stuff and jumping off other stuff and punching stuff/people, and of course, falling and being punched too.
The fight sequences fed my action-hungry imagination, but the larger plot is what grabbed me– in the world of Divergent, the population is divided into five factions, based on personality traits: selflessness, peacefulness, honesty, intelligence and bravery.
While Tris chooses the bravery of the Dauntless, she tests positively for no less than three of the factions: Tris is Divergent. This is bad, because it means she doesn’t conform to the system. While she is fighting to prove herself in her faction, she is also fighting to hide the truth of her test, and eventually becomes caught up in a much bigger issue festering in this post-apocalyptic society. It’s a busy time.
Plus, she’s falling in love with one of her instructors (fair enough, too: the guy is a babe) which makes for some scenes with that rose-coloured lighting that goes along with Significant Lingering Looks. This love story certainly doesn’t drive the plot, although it is a nice addition, and I couldn’t fail to notice it, given that I was sharing the cinema with probably 80 girls under the age of 16.
Much more of a selling point, however: a true and sincere effort to work away from gender roles. It’s almost irrelevant that Tris is female: she faces all the same challenges as her fellow male initiates; she fights against them in training; she is expected to beat them to pass her tests. She gets to be tough and brave while also being emotional, loyal and passionate. The audience gets to see weaknesses of the male characters, too – and not just as a way of bringing the bad guys down.
This is why I think you all should go and see this movie. Go for the action, and over a cup of coffee afterwards, reflect on the refreshing portrayal of a woman as a main character and a hero.
I can’t wait for the next movie, even though I suspect they’ll probably split the third and final book into 2 movies, as is the fashion of the time.