Divergent (Movie Review)

Disclaimer: This review contains minor spoilers, so watch out! Also, credit goes to Kiss Them Goodbye for the screencaps.

Seeing as it is currently Easter break, and I won myself a free cinema ticket, I decided that it'd be good plan to get in contact with Josh and go see a film. I had a few films I wanted to see, but we settled on Divergent (it was released worldwide into cinemas on the 21st of March). It had piqued my interest ever since I'd seen the trailer before Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Josh wrote a review of that film on his personal blog by the way, so check that out. Keep up the good work buddy!). However, it wasn't the concept of the film that grabbed me (I felt it wasn't too well explained in the trailer) but the fact that budding actress Shailene Woodley was playing the lead role. I'd previously seen her in the 2013 romance comedy-drama film The Spectacular Now. I found her role in that film to be very convincing, and I definitely knew that I'd look out for her in the future.

So, what is the premise of Divergent? Basically, in a dystopian future, Chicago has a wall built around it. To keep the peace, society is divided up into five factions, based on their personalities. These include: Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (truthful), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (brave). Despite there being five, the ones who play the most importance in the film are Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless. Abnegation are the faction which main character Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) and her family are a part of.
When citizens turn 16, they undergo an aptitude test which recommends which faction they are fit for, then they get to chose whether to take this advice or not. During this test however, Beatrice finds out that she is fact a 'Divergent' meaning that she fits into all of the factions. Since Divergent people can think independently and the government cannot conform their thinking, they are considered threats to the social orders. Sworn to secrecy, Beatrice chooses to become a Dauntless, who are in charge of protecting society. It isn't long before she discovers that the Erudite are attempting to overthrow Abnegation for power, and that they intended to involve more than just politics in doing so (what's new?). It's up to Beatrice and the friends she meets along the way to save the day.

The film is actually an adaptation of a novel of the same name, written by Veronica Moth. Judging by the plot of the film, perhaps the book is worth picking up. I was fascinated by the concept, and loved the idea of the factions, although it would have been nicer to see more development of the Candor and Amity classes. I did however, like the underlying tone of criticism towards the structure of our own society throughout the film, as it got me thinking.
The film had a pretty slow pace, and it took quite a while for things to get moving, but there was a lot of preparation story-wise to be done before the plot could really hit the ground running. When it did get going however, I found everything to be genuinely tense. Despite the slow nature of the film, I still believe the plot was thoroughly engaging throughout.

Let's talk about the actors and actresses. Remember when I said that Shailene Woodley's role in The Spectacular Now was convincing? Well, Divergent was no exception either. She played a strong, believable lead role, who was easy to sympathise with. Her character is put through a lot and made to feel a wide range of different emotions throughout the film, and Shailene definitely handled them well. There is one point in particular where she cries and her cry seemed actually genuine, no kidding.
The leading man was Theo James, who played one of the instructors of Dauntless initiates, Four. Although a little hot headed, and surprisingly scary in the beginning, I soon found myself warming up to his character as he revealed a softer side. Jai Courtney did a fantastic job of playing Eric, one of the leaders of Dauntless. If you thought Four was hot headed and scary, then you haven't met Eric. Eric is a nasty piece of work who provides torment for our heroine for most of the film, with his harsh rules and ways of doing things. Baddie and leader of Erudite, Jeanine (played by Kate Winslet) definitely does a great job in her role. The sign of a good villain is when you genuinely feel pumped for them to meet their comeuppance, and I felt just that.
Also interesting was the inclusion of Miles Teller, who was also in The Spectacular Now. He played a good role, despite being mostly a background character. It's nice to see him and Shailene returning together in the same film though!

The musical score was composed by composer-fellow Junkie XL. The music didn't stand out much too me really. I was too distracted by the plot and going's on to really notice, but what I did pick up on sounded great. Also, some girl seated near me was chatting to her mum on the phone during the film, as well as texting (can people not disconnect themselves from their phones for that long?) and arguing with her friend. Watch the film or fuck off, jeez, the cheek of some people. Anyhow, back to the music. The most noticeable pieces of music in the film were a variety of tracks by Ellie Goulding. Not being a fan of Ellie myself, I wasn't particularly bothered about the inclusion of these songs, but they worked. The film wouldn't have lost anything if they hadn't been included though.

So overall, Divergent is a film with a great concept that was executed well, although at times slowly, with a fantastic cast of talented actors and actresses. There were a few things that weren't really cleared up at the end, and a few points that could have been further elaborated on, but I'll let them slide for now, as I hear that Divergent is in fact part of a trilogy (the other books are Insurgent and Allegiant). I recommend this film to anyone who fancies seeing an intriguing sci-fi film, or just something tense to have you hanging off the edge of your seat. I've heard people saying this film is 'the next Hunger Games', not that I've ever seen that film, as I've still got a chip on my shoulder from when they cancelled the remake of Battle Royale.

What did you think of Divergent? Let us know in the comments section below, via our Twitter, or via our Facebook page.

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