Set in a futuristic dystopia, society is divided into five factions – Amity (peaceful), Candor (truthful), Erudite (intelligent) , Abnegation (selfless) and Dauntless (brave) …… and every person must fit into one and only one of the factions. Each child is born into their parents faction but when they are 16, they are tested and invited to join the faction that best suits their personality. But on this day of choosing they may exhibit free will and opt for another faction. But once they do this, there is no going back and should they fail to integrate into their new faction, they will be discarded and sent to live on the streets and will therefore be homeless. Factionless.
But there is a hitch in this grand design. Divergents.
Divergents do not fit into any faction and cannot be clearly categorised. This in turn makes them very dangerous to the status quo and so they must keep their true natures a secret and choose a faction they feel best suits them.
Tris (Woodley) is a Divergent. She chooses to join Dauntless but has she made the right choice?
Dauntless are the warriors who protect the now highly secure and completely walled in city of Chicago. To outsiders, they seem to be wild and free but once you choose Dauntless, much is expected of you. They train hard and if you dont make the cut, you are out. No chances, just gone.
One her way to the Dauntless area of the city, she befriends other new recruits including Christina (Kravitz) and Will (Lloyd-Hughes) and this small group of new friends will become the families they have all given up to join their new faction. The moment they arrive they are greeted by their
tormentors trainers Eric (Courtney) and Four (James) and are left in no doubt that this is not going to be the fun and exciting option they expected it to be.
Having not read the books and judging by the trailer, I was expecting a kind of The Hunger Games Lite. And while yes there are obvious similarities and comparisons are inevitable, this tale does stand alone in its differences to The Hunger Games.
This movie is about belonging and a sense of community. While fundamentally, the segregation of society does not and will never work, here there is the expression of free will and nobody is forced to do anything, let alone kill other children. And yes once the surface is scratched, everything is not quite as it seems but we are all expecting that right? Right!
The young leads do an exemplary job of portraying just the right amount of futuristic sci fi welded together with teenage enthusiasm. They live in a vastly different world to ours but one that, if we are all honest, may not be to far into our own future. Or is it happening now and we simply choose not to see it. Hmmmm
The action is tough and at times brutal because this faction are warriors and warriors fight and protect. The training regime is harsh and relentless and those who fail are discarded without a backward glance.
Of course, Tris was never going to simply melt away into Dauntless, her secret undiscovered. After each choosing, it seems the ruling class seeks out Divergents who threaten their tentatively balanced society. This is where Jeanine (Winslet) appears, teetering around in her smart suit and glaring icily at everyone. Now I love me some Miss Winslet, you know I do, but honestly…… you could have thrown a fish onto land and extracted a more sincere performance from it. Winslet is horribly, horribly miscast here and …….well no.
At almost 2 1/2 hours long, this movie is hard slog but I am reliably informed that it is indeed true to the book and any changes would have taken away from the story.
This is not the juggernaut that The Hunger Games is but it is a good movie. It has its action, its romance and its twists but it stays true to its central theme….belonging. Teenagers seem to be a little less angsty these days and expect some kick arse action with their popcorn. These mean girls dont bitch about you behind your back…..they are too busy fighting for survival.
And these girls are not mean …. they are kick arse and cool…..even as they struggle to find out where they fit in.
Love Flick xx
Director : Neil Burger
Running Time : 139 minutes
Release Date : 10 April 2014