Having seen Shailene Woodley in Divergent one thing was clear, by the time the end credits rolled, Katniss Everdeen can move right over and make room for Tris. As protagonists go this young lady, who is pretty much a square peg that cannot fit into a round hole, is just what the doctor ordered. While the movie is, admittedly, aimed at the fans of Veronica Roth, aka teens, the older and younger demographic should respond well to the story being told here.
In a similar vein to The Hunger Games Tris becomes a reluctant hero. For those not familiar with the storyline of Roth’s popular books, there are three in all, a short recap may be in order.
The setting is the post-apocalyptic city of Chicago. The “windy city” obviously suffered a lot of damage as the buildings in the movie look like something out of The Last of Us video game. Living amongst the devastated city are the survivors of the war.
The remnants of this destroyed society now live behind huge fences designed to keep attackers out and keep the citizens of this new world in. The social structure is a rigid system of five factions broken down into human traits. At the age of 16 the youth of Chicago must undergo a rite of passage that leads them into adulthood.
This rite is a two part process of a “test” and their personal decision on where they think they’ll fit in society. Following the story of Beatrice, who later changes her name to Tris, the audience sees the young girl “fail” her test and learn that she is a Divergent, something that society fears. In this new social system there is no room for individuality, no room for anyone or anything that cannot be controlled. A divergent in one who registers on more than one human trait. They are hunted down and killed, so Tris must now try to hide her abilities while trying to become a Dauntless, the city’s warriors.
As Tris, Shailene Woodley gives a standout performance, her character could well move Katniss Everdeen aside as the hottest heroine around. When the movie is over, the audience leaves satisfied at the ending and looking forward to the sequel to learn more of what this new character will do. Of course fans of Roth’s books will know already, but, there is enough differences to keep them coming back.
Tris may be a teen girl, but her character is one that will resound with any teen, or adult who remembers their teenage years, who feels that they do not fit in. This feeling of being different from everyone; parents, peers, and society, in essence feeling like a square peg in a world of round holes. Add to this very normal teen experience the fact that one’s destiny in this dystopian world is set in stone once chosen by the new adults, the pressure to conform is overwhelming and disturbing. Especially if one is a Divergent.
There are other characters in the film who will strike a chord with audiences of all ages. The mysterious, yet likeable, Four and Tris’ nemesis Jeanine a scary woman who wants to control everyone; the friends, and one enemy, that Tris makes in the Dauntless faction are also memorable.
Katniss Everdeen can move over to make room for a new heroine in town. Shailene Woodley as Tris in Divergent will enthrall and impress as the newest big thing in cinema. Thematically the movie, and Tris are all about being an individual and fighting for what is right. The film opens across the U.S. on March 21st.
By Michael Smith