Based on the Veronica Roth’s best seller, Divergent, the movie, epitomizes the general message of most young adult fiction — you’re you, and nobody else. You can’t let them define you. Don’t let them put you into one of their neat little slots.
Not surprisingly, this movie comparable to other franchises such as The Hunger Games, engages audiences in a dark, futuristic world to present the recurring theme of good v evil.
However, unlike the other enormously successful franchise, Divergent focuses more on subtle, intimate moments. I was impressed by the way the young actors and actresses were able to introduce their characters and their personalities — not only to the audience but to their fellow players.
In the film, Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) is on the brink of her Choosing Day, as is her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort). In this dystopian Chicago, years after a horrific war supposedly destroyed the rest of the country, Choosing Day marks the moment all 16 year olds are forced to pick which of the five factions they will join — and live in for the rest of their lives. Once they make their decision, they cannot return to their families, and most parents reject their children if they choose a faction other than the one they were raised in (which both Beatrice and Caleb eventually do).
Beatrice and Caleb have grown up in the Abnegation faction, the seemingly Amish-like, selfless, community-service-oriented group that is responsible for leading the entire community. This is much to the dismay of the Erudite faction who are described as the thinkers, the well-educated. The other factions include the physically superior and adventurous Dauntless, who provide the protection of the city. Members of Amity are fun-loving, playful and kind. Candor members are the outspoken, unfiltered tellers of truth, who love to debate.
To the distress of her parents, Beatrice chooses Dauntless (the protectors), after receiving inconclusive test results. She is coined ‘divergent’ by her tester, who tells Beatrice she must keep it a deep secret. Being divergent is considered extremely dangerous and threatening in a society that values conformity and suppressing human nature.
The leader of these values, Jeanine Matthews, is played by Kate Winslet, who brings a less convincing performance, but probably because of her underwritten role. Matthews is convinced that Divergents are a threat to her plan to overthrow Abnegation and rule the city with strict regulations, which the selfless Abnegation clan often breaks.
Beatrice, who has now named herself Tris, begins her fight to fit in with the fearless Dauntless faction and connect with her mentor, Four, played by Theo James. Their slow-going yet great chemistry is what makes this movie succeed. There’s a genuity that comes across that makes you root for them throughout the movie.
While plot development eats up a fair amount of time, it’s necessary to understand the personal journey Tris is going through. Overall the film provided a plot-worthy yet seemingly generic take on the varying degrees of evil within a futuristic society. The interpersonal connections and depth the leading roles bring makes the audience interested to see how the two remaining films will divulge the rest of Tris’ adventure; as she and Four continue to solve the puzzle of their very distorted world.