Shailene Woodly brings new talent to the big sceen in “Divergent”
By FAITH RIVERS
Woodley plays the conflicted young Beatrice Prior who lives in a society divided into five factions (Erudite, Dauntless, Candor, Abnegation and Amity) to maintain the peace. Each faction has a role to fulfill, and everyone, on their 16th birthday, test that is supposed to decide their identity and chooses whether to join the faction. Beatrice grows up in Abnegation, which governs the society, but her test results are inconclusive, meaning she is Divergent: she is not a conformist and is therefore a threat to the system.
Kate Winslet plays the Erudite leader, Jeanine Matthews, whose role in the film is more present than in the novel, though Winslet’s performance as villain unsatisfactory and she fails to convincingly show Matthews’ motivation.
Unable to tell anyone that she is Divergent for fear of what will happen to her, Beatrice chooses to leave Abnegation and join Dauntless, the faction of soldiers and bravery. She changes her name to Tris and meets Four, convincingly played by Theo James, a strong, quiet and handsome Dauntless who is in charge of training the initiates.
Four and Tris’s relationship develops amid Tris’s struggle to overcome the psychological and physical challenges of training and keep her place among the Dauntless.
Woodley and James were good choices for the roles and play the emotionally complicated yet heroic figures well. Their relationship is developed in line with the book’s plot and James and Woodley have good chemistry that sells their attachment as genuine. The movie is paced well, with the dialogue rarely dragging and the scenes unfolding and developing effectively.
However, the film lapses into predictability at the climax where the film sways from the novel and a rather rushed ending ensues. While not as compelling as “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent” is still an enjoyable film with a competent cast and engaging plot that deserves an audience.