Divergent | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


In a dystopic Chicago of the future, a teen makes a life-changing choice


Neil Burger directs this sci-fi actioner, adapted from Veronica Roth's young-adult novel, about a dystopian world of the future where people are divided into factions based on virtues. At least, that's how things are in what used to be Chicago. When teens come of age, they're tested for one of five virtues — Amity, Candor, Erudite, Abnegation and Dauntless — and then leave their family to join one of the groups ("faction before blood").

Young Tris (Shailene Woodley) tests positive for multiple factions, which makes her a "divergent," a state of being that is a threat to the severely ordered society. But she wisely keeps mum, and joins Dauntless, ensuring that most of this film follows her training from nice girl to bad-ass warrior. Her trainer is a smoldering hunk known as Four (Theo James), who might also be harboring secrets.

It's entertaining, if a little simplistic, with few surprises along the way. Mostly, this outing feels like a preamble, in which the broader stakes are downplayed until we simply get through training. (Will Tris even graduate?!) Also left dangling: the case for being different (the faction-less are presented as either closeted divergents, or homeless) — or why, beyond disrupting basic tidiness, being a multi-traited person is such a huge crime. The Curious can stay tuned.

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