Movie Review

Film Review: DIVERGENT (2014): The Zeitgeist of Youth in the Future

Theo James Divergent

Divergent (2014) Film Review, a movie directed by Neil Burger, and starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Justine Wachsberger, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Zoe Kravitz, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn, Ray Stevenson, Mekhi Phifer, Ansel Elgort, Christian Madsen, Ben Lamb, and Amy Newbold.

This movie is a multilayered psychological journey into a teenager’s struggle for identity that has really captured the zeitgeist of today’s youth.  Shailene Woodley plays Tris, a 16-year-old girl who discovers she doesn’t fit neatly into her futuristic, dystopian society after taking a mandatory aptitude test.

Tris is deemed as dangerous as a “Divergent” because she is considered uncontrollable by the government who seeks to put all its citizens into five distinct boxes.

Armed with a secret she can’t even tell her family, Tris soon wins the favor of a “Dauntless” leader called Four, played by Theo James. Four is a man with his own demons and secrets, but he seems to understand Tris better than she understands herself, making for a complicated relationship.

Based on the book by Veronica Roth, screenwriters, Vanessa Taylor and Evan Daugherty have crafted a surprisingly entertaining film, despite the book’s episodic structure. This is a three part series and unlike The Hunger Games, there is no big battle in the first installment.

Shailene Woodley plays Tris with striking emotion. She’s young and her physical strength doesn’t match a girl who is “Dauntless” but her will is compelling. She is strongest when she is anchored by the other females in the film. Her best scenes are with Ashley Judd, who plays Tris’s mother, Natalie. Judd gives a spot-on performance as the selfless mother with her own secrets.  This may be Judd’s best performance to date.

Woodley also shines in her scenes with icy Jeanine, played astutely by Kate Winslet. Woodley easily taps into a rebellious quality, not all teenage actresses are able to access.

Theo James as Four makes for a complicated young man with a dark past, but he’s yet to transcend heart-throb status, particularly when he shows off his muscles to Tris, in the scene where he explains his tattoos. It’s likely James will grow with the character as the franchise develops over the next two films, however.

Overall, the movie is a solid effort in portraying the angst and fears of the millennial generation and fans of the book should walk away satisfied.

Rating: 7/10

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Shanee Edwards

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