What happens when you take stale clichés from teen sex comedies and thrown them into a Sci-Fi blender. You get [Divergent](movie:593270), a far too serious exploration of high school extended to the whole universe. The jocks, the nerds, the snarks, the virgins and the dopers get to be respectively the Dauntless, Erudite, Candor, Abnegation and Amity factions. They are even color coded and have their own fashionable uniforms reflecting their personalities. How cute, not.
If you are a normal teenage kid, pulling and leaning to two or three different directions, you are Divergent. Meaning your only social option is homelessness, suicide or being executed by the in factions. Or forming your own faction and starting a revolution. Be me, free or die is something that resonates with every misunderstood teen. The downside about the movie version of this is that there are no funny lines you haven’t heard and all this seriousness is rather boring.
Picking out the other Divergents lurking out there is a pretty easy task. Shailene Woodley plays the top want to be me and Theo James the top want to be him. The rest of the cast plays their clichés so tightly that no originality could possibly ever shine through. Kate Winslet plays the evil leader/parent role. The total lack of evil diversity allows Winslet to slum this to a career low performance.
Shailene Woodley gives it the Jennifer Lawrence try – and almost succeeds. She is held back by a story and a director, Neil Burger that refuses to revel in originality. The movie plods along, content to be rudderless, hitting all the expected beats, hoping the familiarity of it all makes it less familiar. Woodley’s character is all goodness with very little dark. Her success is a given, so there is no struggle. When Kate Winslet has thrown in the towel performance wise it’s hard to claim an easy victory.
Divergent gets a C- from me.