The three stages of watching Divergent

1. Get super hyped about it

Binge on the books. A strong female lead + healthy relationships + appropriate teen angst + killer action = devoured books.

 2. Watch trailer and freak out

When the trailer came out I wasn’t so sure how I felt about the upcoming release of a book I had enjoyed thoroughly. Why was it that Tris never said anything? All the action seemed to take place around her, without her involvement. The trailer did, however, prove that the casting was phenomenal. Kate Winslet as Janine? Fantastic. Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 9.44.45 pm Theo James as Four. Absolute Genius. He looks broody enough to have some emotional baggage, appealing enough to make us hot under the collar. But most of all he looked strong, in such a way that he could play Four’s stiff personality. I was ready to watch him crumble as he falls for Tris. Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 9.46.21 pm Shailene Woodly, who I’d never heard of before, was a fantastic choice for Tris. Even though she’s twenty-two and playing a teenager, Woodley seems to portray an awkward sixteen year-old flawlessly. Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 9.45.22 pm The release of the trailer heralded the moment I started counting down the days on the calendar until Divergent’s release.

3. See the film and die happy

Everything seems to come to us later in Australia. When Divergent finally made it, I squeezed into the red velour seat and plonked my overpriced but incredibly necessary slushie into the drink holder. Phone on silent. I was ready to feel all the things. Lucy and I caught this one together. We’d both read all three books, so there was nothing that could surprise us.

Here were our thoughts:

Why so much make up, Abnegation?Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 12.43.52 pm

Tris’ obvious use of mascara (sticky, clumpy mascara!) was weird. The prolific close-up shots do nothing to help the issue. It ruined the effect of the no-mirrors rule and the super-comfy, humble Abnegation jumpers.

The Dauntless musicScreen Shot 2014-04-26 at 9.44.34 pm 1

I absolutely loved the use of that kind of beating metal cup/drum/hand clapping sound that followed the Dauntless around. Especially at the beginning. If I ran, I would run to that.

The simulations (mostly) made sense

The dynamic of person and simulation and observer watching her fears on-screen worked well. Four’s reasons for inviting Tris into his fear landscape were clear. But the most important question: is it really possible to have hair-brushing, neck-touching sexual tension when someone is about to jam a needle into your neck? Which brings us to:

Tris’ overreaction to a lovely tame make-out sesh


One (sexy) kiss and… “I don’t want to go too fast,” Tris says. Umm… did you think he was going to throw you down on the concrete and have his wicked way with you? Please just enjoy the moment! In the book, Tris’ reluctance to consummate their relationship is in context but here her comment felt awkward.

Tris’ Amazing DressScreen Shot 2014-04-26 at 9.45.57 pm

Let’s talk for a minute about The Most Comfy Looking Dress That Ever Was. Tris’ Abenegation dress, and in fact all the costuming, was utterly perfect. But it was the grey Abnegation dress that really had me covetous. Please can I have it?

The Cast

Four (Theo James) theoiantwitchoffAppropriately drool-worthy and brusque. His face twitch action was admirable. He’s not quite up to Ian Somerhalder’s level yet, but I have faith he can get there, one day. Tris (Shailene Woodley) Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 9.46.11 pmTris’ (Shailene Woodley’s) non-Hollywood beauty and her shift from weakling to elbow-fighting action hero felt real. Christina (Zoe Kravitz) Kravitz was perfect as the truth-speaking candor initiate. Her plucky nature was engaging and there was no disconnect from the Christina in the novel. My only criticisms are: 1. Kravitz’s build was so much smaller than Tris that I wondered how she had stayed above Tris in the tests. 2. There wasn’t enough of her. No really. Christina plays a fairly large role in Tris’ development from freaked out Abnegation to psyched up Dauntless. However, the film managed to portray Tris’ development so well that it didn’t seem strange. Christina is a far more involved character in the next two novels, so perhaps we will be seeing more of Kravitz. Peter (Miles Teller), Al (Christian Madsen) and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) The action of the movie was fantastically fast-paced. Flitting from one scene to the next, though, has its drawbacks. On a personal level I seemed to struggle with differentiating these actors. When you stack them side-by-side you can see their physical differences, but when you’re snapping from one scene to the next and they’re not standing side by side, it becomes more confusing. It was only towards the end, and by mere process of elimination that I was able to establish who Peter was. Despite my confusion, these actors were well-chosen, and I wouldn’t trade the fast-pace of Divergent for anything.

Comparing the movie to the book

The film did an absolutely brilliant job of portraying the book. I’m actually astounded how little was added or subtracted from the novel to make the film work. We have to give most of the credit to Veronica Roth for writing books that are incredibly cinematic. The pace and mood of the book was clear on the screen.

Our final judgment

When can we see it again?


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