Directed by: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Jai Courtney, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn and Zoë Kravitz
Welcome to the future. Well, let’s hope not. Instead, welcome to writer Veronica Roth’s world. Roth is the penned the book series the movie “Divergent” is based on. In these stories she has created a dystopian society that puts people into categories or “Factions”. When you turn sixteen years of age, you choose, based on your personality and based on what is strongly suggested to you, the faction you are to belong. Leaving behind everything, if you don’t choose the faction you were born into, you now have a new family, new friends and a new way of life. You are an “initiate”.
Initiates have to face fears to help them pick their way of life and where to fit in. It's with this that director Neil Burger makes the story come to life when showing you what is going on in the mind of the impressionable and very easily controlled youth. We get to stroll through their heads and I’m all for watching it... as long as this doesn't ever really happen and people take a peek into my mind and fears.
I digress. “Divergent” has everything that an adventure buff is looking for in an action flick. And for guys who might be getting dragged to the film because their girlfriends have read the books, you'll be glad to know that it primarily keeps the lovey-dovey stuff to a minimum, which is a rare thing indeed in YA novels and their films. I like the length of time that Burger took to bring on the mushy stuff. He made me wait for what felt like a lifetime just to see A kiss!When it finally did happened I wanted to cheer - along with many teenage girls, as well, I’m sure. From the oohs and aahs I heard throughout the theatre during the screening I attended, I can say that for a fact, actually. But, guys, after the kiss, they get straight back to the story and don’t focus on gratuitous sex and nudity. Hooray! Or is it hooray, guys? I’ll let you be the judge.
Anyway, like “Hunger Games” before it, and that’s where the comparisons stop, the hero is instead heroine. Young Shailene Woodley plays our protagonist Tris and she performs magnificently. I had the joy of speaking with her on her “The Descendents” press tour and she couldn’t have been more genuine and pleasant to be around. I’m very happy for this beautiful, young, talented rising star. Keep an eye on this one, not that her gorgeous eyes and skill in her chosen profession will make that hard to do. The screen loves her! In fact, everyone in the entire cast is absolutely perfect in their role! Kate Winslet is a witch as Jeanine Matthews, the sole representative from the Erudite faction, and its leader. It's wonderful to see her take on this very unlikable character.
Theo James is dashing as Tris’ guardian, Four. He isn’t in the Dauntless faction, the faction she chose, to be her protector, obviously, he just ends up not capable of seeing anything bad happen to her because, oh yeah, did I mention that you may choose a faction but it doesn’t mean the other members have to want you or accept you? Wicked games are afoot. Wicked games. Miles Teller (Peter) and Jai Courtney (Eric) make things very uncomfortable for Tris as she tries to prove she’s worthy, even though she discovers she’s a Divergent she wants to be Dauntless. Once she realizes she’s Divergent she learns that she must keep this a secret, for Divergents can fit into any group, any category... and for leaders of this society this is very dangerous because this means they cannot be controlled. Therefore, all Divergents are weeded out and eliminated. Tris wants to fit in but, also, she must hide amongst her new family which is making this difficult for her.
Her parents were hoping to keep a close eye on her and are quite daunted (I couldn’t help myself) when she doesn’t stay with them. But, as they say in this futuristic world, “Faction before blood”! Hmmm… outside of obvious reasons for her parents wanting her to stay, I wonder what else they know.
Woodley has a beautiful scene with her mother, played by Ashley Judd, that made me tear up. I think you will, too. It’s easy to imagine that the set of this film was full of friendship and bonding. It comes across as you watch the performances of the actors.
Anyway, see “Divergent”, out today at a theatre or IMAX near you. This is not to be seen on anything less than a theatre screen. And, it’s the first of the trilogy so don’t miss it or you’ll see one of the others and wish you had listened to me to have appreciated the full scope of the reality Burger constructs just for you.
ALSO! Read my INTERVIEW WITH MILES TELLER AND JAI COURTNEY HERE
AND! Check out PICTURES FROM THE RED CARPET PREMEIRE HERE
FOR GOOD MEASURE read my INTERVIEW WITH SHAILENE WOODLEY HERE