GLOBAL — In the film Divergent, adapted from Veronica Roth‘s best-selling novel of the same name – it’s a new world order set in the future. One in which society is divided into five factions with different sets of values: Abnegation, the selfless; Candor, the honest; Erudite, the intelligent; Amity, the peaceful; and Dauntless, the brave. As someone who has not read the book, it all seemed quite complicated, but as the plot evolved, it all became quite clear. Imagine a society where its inhabitants are grouped based on their personalities or characteristics – not being able to have a range of beliefs, but rather one life philosophy, where acting on your human nature is viewed as a threat. And when you come of age, you are tested to determine if you are in the right faction and given the option to choose any faction you want to live out your life. The catch, there’s no going back, ever.
That’s the premise of this action-packed sci-fi flick, which is centered around Tris (Shailene Woodley), who is raised as an Abnegation, where she was named Beatrice. Limited to how often she can look in the mirror and expected to show concern and care for others, she can’t help but be lured by the Dauntless faction, who appear free and exuberant with no limits or boundaries and literally free to run wild. They are the protectors of the city and when the time comes for Tris to chose a faction, they’re the one she chooses. Both her and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), who chooses Erudite, leave their parents – played by Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn – behind and venture off to a new way of life in new factions.
What I love about films such as this one and Hunger Games, there’s an underlying message. One about the world we live in and the struggle between the people and the powers that be, over the fate of humanity. What’s most intriguing about Divergent is that the powers that be attempt to suppress the wills of human nature through a division of the people into factions based on virtues. If someone does not fit in, they are factionless, what we’d call homeless. If they are determined to have a combination of the attributes, as Tris’s test results predict, they are Divergent, which is a threat in their society because Divergents can’t be controlled and are not predictable.
Once Tris chooses Dauntless, where she gives herself the name Tris, the faction almost instantly proves to be challenging. Tris and her new friends including Christina (Zoe Kravitz), a Candor who freely speaks her mind, are expected to run and jump on trains and leap off buildings without fear. She also meets a leader in the faction, Four (Theo James), whom she’s immediately drawn to. In her new faction, Tris has to pass a series of physical and mental tests to prove she is worthy. But she soon begins to believe that there’s something about Dauntless that isn’t quite right and knows that if they find out she is really Divergent, it could mean death.
This film parallels in many ways with the real world. It touches on child abuse, peer pressure, and the notion that people are always trying to “fit in” or fit into a mold of what they think, or are told, they should be. As seen in the film, often this is based on the perception of how good it appears that another group or person’s situation may be. But at the end of the day, it’s an individual’s choice as to what path is right for them and to come into the realization that the grass is not always greener on the other side.