Under threat of patricide, I took my daughter to see Divergent this afternoon (because Tobias, the film's male protagonist, is irresistibly hot, I was instructed). If you're a regular reader you may recall my, uh, dismay, let us say, at the abomination of 2012's Hunger Games. Well, I learned something today that expands Einstein's relativity theory from cosmology to the field of aesthetics:
Hunger Games was another Citizen Kane relative to the cinematic atrocity of Divergent--all two hours and 20 agonizing minutes of it. (It may have lasted three hours, or perhaps four, and maybe even five. I'm not sure. I mercifully slipped in and out of consciousness in rather short order.)
The film, I'll call it, opens as a post-apocalyptic dystopia. From there, things get bleak, and then even bleaker. We feared not, however, since the female protagonist is even pluckier and hotter than Tobias, and--spoiler alert!--triumphs in the end, which occurred at some inexorable point during my deepening coma and partial paralysis.
The story's "narrative" is contradictory, but one isn't likely to notice that much, or much care, since its incoherence compensates for what it lacks in consistency. My supreme objection, however, is that its heroes are plainly heroes and its villains are clearly villains and all this black-and-white simplicity is commercially impressed on young minds as great storytelling. The ambiguities, the uncertainties, the complex and quite complicated humanness of authentically great literature and equally great moviemaking is expunged; Hollywood prefers not to tax any young minds.
Contra film executives, I have confidence in the ability of youth to appreciate complexity and recognize it for what it is--real life. Now if only youth could see some of it on a big screen.