Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Divide

Director: Xavier Gens

Writers: Karl Mueller, Eron Sheean
Genre: Post Apocalyptic Thriller

Recommended to: People who think people suck
Characters: Eva (Laura German): Our lead, Sam’s girlfriend
                          Sam (Ivan Gonzalez): Eva’s boyfriend
                          Mickey (Michael Biehn): Building super
                          Josh (Milo Ventimiglia): Adrien’s brother
                          Adrien (Ashton Holmes): Josh’s brother, Bobby’s friend
                          Bobby (Michael Eklund): Adrien’s friend
                          Devlin (Courtney B. Vance): Just a guy
                          Marilyn (Rosanna Arquette): Wendi’s mother
                          Wendi (Abbey Thickson): Marilyn’s daughter
Synopsis: Tenants take refuge in their building’s bomb shelter during a nuclear strike, only to find themselves trapped together with dwindling resources and no WiFi.

Spoiler Warning!
The Divide’s best sequence revolves around the abduction of Wendi by mysterious people in biohazard suits. We get a small glimpse of the new world order, and taste an enticing mystery. Then the door gets shut, our characters sealed in, and we wait for them to die. This is what makes it hard for me to recommend the film. We’ve seen such “Lifeboat” stories before (including 90% of the zombie movies ever made), but those usually offer some hope of escape, and some measure of camaraderie among the trapped bastards, but I found the Divide relentlessly pessimistic.

The only character I could sympathize with was Devlin, as he was the one trying to pull them together, the one trying to be proactive, but then he’s dispatched early (and you know why that was), and we just watch the characters rot. I couldn’t even root for Eve, the viewer surrogate, as her most appealing trait was that she wasn’t as awful as the others.
Dramatically we should have had a three way power struggle, with Martin holding onto his stash, the Peter Petrelli trio trying to take over, and Devlin trying to pull the others together for safety. Killing off Devlin leaves the others anchorless, and Martin is too reclusive to be a good foil to the three men. And outside Marilyn’s acknowledgement that sex was her best way to survive, I didn’t find the interpersonal politics all that interesting.

It also hurt that we never again went to the outside. A tantalizing mystery is dangled before us early on, and just dropped. Sure, if this was really happening it makes sense that our characters never learn the truth. But as a viewer it was incredibly frustrating.
The Divide is not a bad film by any measure. It is just dark and bleak and uncomfortable, too much so even for me. Of course not everyone will respond to the characters as I did. If you have an interest in survival stories or post-apocalyptic tales, there is enough here to warrant a viewing. The direction and performances are solid, and there are some very tense and disturbing scenes. If the characters happen click with you, you could very well love this film. 

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