Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley), lives in the once decadent Chicago – a city devolved to waste after years of turmoil and war. Torn apart from the natural world, its people are forced to survive in an artificial sphere dedication solely to the preservation of unconditional obedience. Of those remaining, most are divided, others have yet to be, but everyone is designated to a place of being.
Abnegate Tris finds herself on the cusp of her Choosing Ceremony in which she will decide which of the five factions she will align herself with forever but before she is able to make her choice, she must be subjected to an aptitude test of which will determine her place in a faction filled world. Consequently, the results of her aptitude test have catapulted Tris into a new faction of being: Divergent. To be divergent is to be an anomaly within a cult that distains individuality – only few exist, some are excavated, almost all are killed.
At the choosing ceremony, Tris is indoctrinated into Dauntless; they climb the walls and scour the city for evil doers all the while supporting a six inch wide smile across their face, much to the dismay of her parents who have aligned themselves with the faction Abnegation (selfless). Upon arriving at Dauntless headquarters, Tris’ chances of becoming displaced are seeming more realistic than ever before; but like any dystopian heroine, Tris is able to redeem herself and propel herself into the eyes of a certain prominent squire, a Dauntless leader named Four (Theo James) who protects her in the face of despair. Meanwhile, passive aggressive anarchy brews at Erudite headquarters, the faction known for intelligence, as talk of a takeover is taking place. Currently, Abnegation regulates the factions and essentially, the world in which they live, however, Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) believes that faction corruption has delineated that that duty should fall into more capable hands.
Directed by Neil Berger, based on the novel Divergent by Veronica Roth, the film adaptation stars actors Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Tony Goldwyn, Ashley Judd, Zoe Kravitz, Jai Courtney and Kate Winslet. Visually, the film is stunning, yet, a plethora of wide shots only accompany a blasé script and a variation of gratuitous plot lines.
“Granted, the film cleverly spouts its indifference to the genre by presenting a blatant perspective on the power of individuality and the role that it plays in our modern society.”
Tris unknowingly embodies her own individuality yet was unaware of her originality until the moment she takes the aptitude test. Even later, when she hides her divergence, she continues to stand out amongst her peers and she is lauded for it. As divergent, Tris is capable of flawlessly overcoming an extremely difficult simulation test within a matter of minutes. When suspicion rises amongst her friends and superiors, especially Four, she hides her extraordinary abilities and fail at something which she can easily defeat.
In essence, the film strives to entertain but not completely challenge its viewers. The world is something we’ve seen before. The characters are likened to people we’ve previously met, and the story has been recycled and carbonated into pleasurable, but tedious, entertainment. “Divergent”, however, seeks to emulate a more complex reality of the world in which we live. In the last decade, these fictional worlds have encapsulated the screen for our entertainment. Each world more slightly altered from the last. Bow and arrows replaced by guns and knives and a love forbidden on catastrophic levels.
Synonymous with its genre, “Divergent” strikes a chord with the reality that is our present as it fades into the dystopian vision that is our future. Tris is given a choice. She hides behind a veil of deceit in an effort to survive, but what happens when survival isn’t all that’s at stake?