Original, but not a true adaptation
Divergent is about Tris Prior, a teenage girl portrayed by Shailene Woodley, who lives in a futuristic dystopia that has been divided into five groups. These so-called factions are based on five values, such as bravery and selflessness, and are supposed to maintain peace in the society. Teenagers have to decide in which faction they belong and Tris is struggling with this decision. This struggle is later explained as divergence and happens to be a threat to the peaceful system of five factions – and so they have to be removed. Fortunately, Tris chose the warrior-faction Dauntless and so she has learned a few tips and tricks to fight those who hunt divergents. During her initiating-process, Tris meets Four, a mysterious Dauntless-leader who also seems to know about divergence and helps her hiding it from those who want to eliminate them.
Shailene Woodley really captivates Tris’s personality and she is inspirational. She portrays the lead character as a not-so typical heroine of the story. Woodley’s Tris is relatable and she struggles with problems that teenagers today also struggle with. For example, they struggle with questions such as: Who am I? Where do I belong? What do other people think of me? In Divergent, Tris tries to find answers to these very realistic questions in a fictional world. This means that Divergent is both entertaining and it sets a example for teenagers who struggle with the same things as Tris.
Also, Theo James’ Four is very surprising. He too, portrays the male lead as the not-so typical male lead. Four has a solid character and James is not afraid to show the guy’s flaws and difficulties. I find this so refreshing in comparison to other teenage movies that have perfect and very much unrealistic male leads (Edward, you still there?).
Divergent is really consistent in its suspense. Although I have read the book and I knew what was going to happen, I still sat on the edge of my chair. For example, when Eric hangs Christina over the chasm because she gave up in a fight, the suspense was really killing me. What I also liked about Divergent, is the soundtrack and again, it is really different from other adaptations, because it is not cheesy and it is not based on semi-popular R&B-kind of songs. The soundtrack is well composed and really fits the atmosphere and the setting of the film.
Unlike many, many other young adult adaptations, the romance in Divergent is mature and realistic. It is not mature in the way that Tris and Four have a lot of sexual scenes (one kissing scene and a lot of lingering stares, actually) but their relationship is mature, because it is based on mutual respect and trust – like relationships should be.
Then, what did I not like about Divergent? Call me a nitpicker, but think that adaptations should stay as true as possible to the book and although Divergent succeeded in this more than expected, I was kind of annoyed by the way the Abnegation were portrayed. They are supposed to be selfless and vanity is absolutely not done, so can someone please explain to me why Tris and her mother wear that much make-up?!
I also think that Four’s divergence should have been explained better, because it was not explained in the film, at all. I am a big fan of the book and I am pretty sure that Four was divergent, but after seeing the film, I am not sure anymore. Okay, Four does not respond to the simulation serums at the end of the film, like a divergent should, and he explains how Tris can hide her divergence, but Tris and Four never really talk about the fact that they are both divergent and this really got me confused. I can imagine that someone who has not read the book, could be very confused about this.
Divergent‘s biggest disappointment isPeter: he is pure evil in the book, but in the film, he just seems like this scary bully that pulls a big mouth when he thinks he is being ignored. I was so disappointed in Peter’s storyline, because the film has this amazing actor, Miles Teller, who could have portrayed Peter so much better. For example, in the book, Peter stabs a fellow-initiate in the eye with a butter knife because he was ranked above him. This really shows how far Peter would go to defend his ranking and that Tris really has to watch her back. Unfortunately, this whole butter-knife-plot-line is not in the film and so Peter is nothing more then your neighbor-bully and that is such a shame, because Teller could made Peter so much more.
Divergent is original the ever-flourishing pool of young adult adaptations and sets itself apart, because of two incredibly strong leading actors, a relatable story and mature and realistic romance. It is, however, not a true adaptation, in my opinion. Little details make or break a story and in the case of Divergent, the filmmakers could have paid a bit more attention to the details and important plot-lines.