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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

Film: Divergent

Divergent has been turned into a film. It can be officially added to the “Book to Movie” list.

Overall, I thought they did well with the film. I think they hit the most important parts of the story within the two and half hour time frame. Yes, they changed some things from how it is in the novel, but the changes they made worked well. In some cases, I thought that some of the changes worked a little better than how it was in novel. The one that comes to mind specifically is when Four has Tris enter his fear landscape with him. In the film it is more of a “this is the help you be a believable Dauntless”, where in the novel it is more “I trust you and am interested in you”. I thought the costuming was done well. There were a few things that didn’t match how my imagination depicted it, but it still worked well for the film. For the most part the cast did well – at least the main, crucial characters of this particular novel were portrayed well. The imagery of the film was absolutely fantastic! The types of shots used were great in helping tell the story. The music supported those shots well.

I do have a few things to say about some of the actor choices and performances. We’ll start off with the lead roles.

Tris… Shailene did a wonderful job with the character of Tris! She portrayed the emotions well and gave a believable performance of Tris’s transformation from bottom of the class to the top. I was a little skeptical of her being casted because of how many book-to-film roles she has been casted in. She portrayed Aimee in The Spectacular Now – which is a great novel and is on my list of films to see – and she will portray Hazel Grace in The Fault in Our Stars. It is not common for an actress to be casted in so many lead roles of book-to-film projects, especially two that have huge audiences anticipating them. I was definitely impressed with her performance as Tris and I look forward to seeing her performances in the other two films.

Four… I’ll be honest; I was excited about the announcement that Theo James would be portraying this character. He is ridiculously close to how I imagined Four. He did not disappoint either. There were a few moments where he came off more harshly than I would have expected, but it still worked. It helped add to his Dauntless façade that Four is meant to have.

The chemistry between Theo and Shailene is believable and it works well with the fact that the romance is not the key to the storyline. That was something I was quite pleased with about this film. They didn’t try to play up the romance between Tris and Four. It is about as important in the film as it is in the novel. It made me happy that this was the case. Small rabbit trail, back to talking about actor-character stuff.

Jeanine… When they said that Kate Winslet was going to be portraying this villainous woman, I was not sure about it at all. I’ve only really seen Kate in classic literature pieces. The first role that comes to mind is Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman. The second one that comes to mind is when she was Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh’s version of the Shakespeare tragedy, Hamlet. So those roles are more of a “good girl” type. She did well with this role though. I had just as much distaste for Jeanine in the film as I did for the character in the novel.

Caleb… Ansel Elgort. The guy who will portray the ever so lovable Augustus Waters in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars which also stars Shailene Woodley. It’s going to be interesting seeing those two go from portraying siblings to love interests. We didn’t get to see a whole lot of Caleb, but what little we did see I felt like it was more obvious that Caleb was going to leave Abnegation. It wasn’t quite as big of a shock as it was in the novel. Maybe that is because I knew that going in, but he just had that air about him. The Abnegation-like actions just really appeared to be faked and not as fluid as they are described in the novel.

Peter… I feel like Peter lost some of his menacing side in the film. He just seemed to be more of a jokester than a bully. The only part I felt like he seemed like a bully was when he and Tris had to fight. So the enemy relationship between Tris and Peter was only somewhat believable. It’ll be interesting to see how this character gets developed as the rest of the films are made. I did like Miles Teller in this role though. Again, Miles was the lead male in The Spectacular Now with Shailene as his lovely lady love interest. There was not a single ounce of romantic interest between them, which is good because there is no romantic interest between those characters.

Christina… This character was okay. I didn’t love her as much as I did in the novel. I don’t know if this was due to the actor – Zoë Kravitz – or the script. I think some of the lines the character was given had potential, but I really have no idea why Christina didn’t have the same Christina-ness about her. I feel like she was just missing her sass factor. She had it a little bit, but it wasn’t to the same magnitude as it was in the novel.

Eric… Jai did quite well with this character. I hated him just as much (if not more) as I did when I met Eric in the novel. Eric is just a despicable character and Jai did exceedingly well with him. Now, the power hungry factor was not quite as apparent as it was in the novel, but that is okay because I still hated him and that is kind of the point of antagonists.

I think that is all that I have to say about characters. Something that I absolutely loved about the film was the soundtrack that accompanied it! I loved the sound association with the Dauntless. Whenever those rim shots happened, you just knew that something completely Dauntless was about to happen. I thought that was smart on the composer’s part because it helped get the audience’s heart racing. It just provided that excitement I felt reading the novel. I also liked the vocal pieces they picked because it just fit the moods of the film. The music accented the storyline, in my opinion.

I really did enjoy this film and I think it is worth checking out if you have not done so. Before you check out the film, I recommend reading the novel first. It’ll give you a good idea of what you are getting yourself into. Just make sure that you remember that the movie is not exactly like the book – no book-to-film project ever will be.

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