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“Divergent” – searching the place you belong to and determining how you fit in as you transition from adolescence to adulthood. Every year, all 16-year-olds must choose a faction. Their choices are permanent “Faction before blood”. Beatrice’s tester (Maggie Q) warns her not to reveal hear diagnosis, because her uncommon status poses a danger to the status quo – divided among five factions based on personality type: Dauntless (warriors), Erudite (intelligent people), Candor (honest people), Abnegation (selfless people), and Amity (peaceful people).
People who don’t fit into any one category, are called “Divergent”. They are perceived as dangerous. And then there are the factionless, who have been cast out. Shailene Woodley stars as Tris (short for Beatrice), a young girl chosen by destiny to challenge the rigid caste system. She’s diagnosed as “divergent’’ in the mandatory test. That means she doesn’t fit into any of the five factions that coexist in what’s left of humanity 100 years after an apocalyptic war. Woodley, through the delicate power of her acting, does something compelling: She demonstrates you what a prickly, fearful-at-first, but bold personality looks like when it’s nestled profoundly within the kind of humble, bookish girl who shouldn’t even like fighting.
Tris chooses to become part of Dauntless not because she has any special skill but because it’s her nature to take risks. The first half of Divergent is a lean, exciting basic-training thriller, with Tris inclined to do things like jump aboard speeding trains and fight with her bare knuckles. The film’s best sequence comes after Tris joins Dauntless, and jumps from a moving elevated train onto a rooftop, and then deep into a building. The city where the plot takes place is immediately recognizable as Chicago, but as the camera moves closer, you see that it’s a different Chicago, with rust and corrosion in its buildings. At first, you might think that everyone is dead. But no, there are people down there, lots of people, living in a new society configured in a strange way. Most of Tris trainings take place in “The Pit”, which looks very much like an 80s health club, surrounded with rock-climbing walls. The brutal training is presided over by the sadistic Eric (Jai Courtney), who promises that anyone that doesn’t make the cut will end up as a faction-less street person. Luckily for Tris, Eric’s deputy – a brave hunk named Four – has her back, yet hoping for more. Both, have a wonderful journey while fighting for escape and truth that bounds Chicago and its future.
For me, “Divergent” is an extraordinary series about growing up from childhood to adolescence and the choices you have to make in your life that shape your personality. And the movie also teaches that you learn a lot about yourself while overcoming life’s struggles. And if you had a bad day, this outstanding series will make not just your day but your entire year. Definitely worth watching.
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