Divergent: A movie largely worthy of the book

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Nora Stewart, Staff Writer

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“Be brave.”

This is one of the core aspects of Divergent, a new movie which premiered March 21st and is directed by Neil Burger. The film is based on the bestselling book of the same name, which is written by Veronica Roth and has been on the New York Times best sellers list for 21 weeks. The book tells the story of Tris Prior, a sixteen-year-old living in a dystopian Chicago, where every year a new set of teens must choose which of five factions they will belong to—for the rest of their lives.

Shailene Woodley, who also acted in The Spectacular Now and stars in the upcoming film The Fault in Our Stars, plays Tris, a member of Abnegation. Abnegation is the faction that values selflessness above all else. But Tris does not feel selfless—she can’t forget herself as well as her brother, Caleb; she looks at herself too long in the mirror. The aptitude test she must take will tell her which faction she belongs too: Candor, for the honest, Dauntless, for the brave, Erudite, for the knowledge-loving, or Amity, for the kind. Or Abnegation, where her family is. The test will tell Tris what she should do when it’s time for the Choosing Ceremony.

But it soon becomes clear that this will only give Tris more problems. Because, as the test shows, she can’t be categorized as easily as others. Tris is Divergent, meaning that she shows an aptitude for more than one faction. But her test administrator, Tori (Maggie Q), makes it very clear that this is something to be hidden—especially in the face of Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet), who refers to human nature as “the enemy.”

Tris chooses Dauntless, the brave faction. It’s a very different world from that of Abnegation, one filled with risks and weapons and tests of fear. Initiation is hard, made cruel by the absolutely vile Dauntless leader Eric, played by Jai Courtney. But Tris makes friends, such as Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), and Al (Christian Madsen). She also meets Four, her instructor, played by Theo James. Four is hard and tough, replying to Tris with “What makes you think you can talk to me?” when she attempts to make conversation. But, of course, there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Woodley plays Tris convincingly and with talent, steering her way through attacks, fights, and emotional moments with skill. James provides a very good performance as well, as do many of the co-stars. It’s not difficult to feel like laughing along with them as they banter, or to tear up as Tris’s world begins to fall apart. Each of the characters is true to their nature in the book, and it’s somewhat amazing to see so many aspects of Divergent brought to life—the Erudite compound, the clothes of the factions, the crumbling buildings of Chicago. The movie doesn’t skimp on the details, and it’s all very well done.

The movie is also largely true to the book itself, in a way adaptations of books sometimes aren’t (see: The City of Ember). Of course, some things were cut out, a number of which I would have loved to see on the big screen, but overall, the film is a fairly faithful adaptation.

Really, the whole atmosphere, and the film as a whole—acting, set, fistfights—feels like an adaptation of Divergent should be. I did enjoy the book more, I must admit—the movie didn’t suck me in quite as much. But, all in all, Divergent is a really, really good movie, one worthy of the book from which it takes its name.

Please note: Divergent features a very sudden and unexpected sexual assault scene, as well as instances of other violence.



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