The attraction between Tris and Four builds almost as slowly onscreen as it does in the book. Credit: Summit Entertainment
Virtually any time a movie based on a best-selling book comes out, waves of criticism follow about the differences between the two. But when "Divergent" (finally) premieres on March 21, critical readers will be hard pressed to find inconsistencies.
The movie sticks extremely close to the book: The characters look like they should, post-apocalyptic Chicago is as bleak as described, and the sexual tension between Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) is as thick as author Veronica Roth intended.
When we spoke with Maggie Q, who plays Tori, and Mekhi Phifer, who plays Dauntless leader Max, both actors told us that while Roth was on set most of the time, she kept her opinions to herself. "She's just so thrilled that all this is happening," said Maggie Q. "She's really smart and thoughtful about what we're doing with the film, but she was in no way looking over people's shoulders. She was just so open, which I think is really cool because when it's your material, sometimes you get too close to it."
Still, many actors did use Roth as a resource on set, asking specific questions about their characters' backstories and soliciting the author's insight. But while some actors took advantage of Roth's presence and the book, Phifer chose to study the script instead, in fear that the book would get in the way of how his character had been adapted for the film. "I want to read them [eventually], but I didn't want to be jaded," he told us.
In a past interview, Woodley mentioned that the book is 400 pages and the script is only 90 pages, so of course some things have to be left out. This presents itself primarily in some of the interrelationships between the characters, not the action or fighting. The romantic relationship between Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) is boiled down to a fun flirtation. Al (Christian Madsen) also plays a much smaller part than in the book, not really forming any close friendships.
Still, the elements of the book that matter most are truly brought to life on the big screen. For fans of the book, seeing the movie will be far from a letdown — it will be a sweet reward.