I’ve always suspected that scifi and fantasy were the best places for strong female characters – from Arya Stark in Game of Thrones to Katniss Everdeen – with the exception of the horrible vampire romance which will not be named, placing women in a world without the same boundaries we experience, or having to overcome a super-sexist world.
Divergent contains Tris, a great character who is unlucky enough to be stuck in a rather uncompeling scifi world. Tris (Shailene Woodley, making the most of the material) lives in a dystopian version of Chicago – actually filmed on location in Chicago, which is pretty unusual and very cool – a city protected from the rest of the world by a giant wall. Inside are factions, divided by function: peace-loving Amity provide the farmers, truthtelling Candor serve as lawyers, academic Erudite value knowledge and research, Abnegation (the faction Tris is born into) seek only to serve others – as well as serving as the government since power has been handed to those who do not crave it and Dauntless (the faction Tris joins early on) who serve as police and soldiers.
Tris, however, is something dangerous to this well ordered society: she is divergent, which means that she could fit into more than one faction – something which could result in her becoming either one of the factionless outcasts or being killed. The premise is an interesting one, but it becomes clear quite early in the movie (and through the book series, which I admit to having read) that the writer quickly runs out of steam with the idea and has to result to such cliches as hypnotic serum and (in a future book) truth serum. Probably the best part of the movie, however, are the great female performances. Woodley is lovely and relatable as Tris and in several scenes, she really shines as a young woman with a strong sense of ownership over her own body who develops faith in her own abilities. Ashley Judd is perfectly cast as Tris’s kind but badass mother while Kate Winslet seems to relish a chance to play the intellectual baddie. Overall, while the plot has several holes, this is a great movie for teenage girls and at least continues to support the idea that there is a role for the female market and great female roles at the movies.
Something mentioned in the book (but not the movie) is that Erudite (the faction that Tris’s brother belongs to) has fizzy lemonade – the only faction to have a lovely soft drink. So I decided to use lemonade to make a lemonade bar – hope you all enjoy!
Lemonade Bars (adapted from Baking Bites)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup plain flour
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup lemonade
Mix the filling – mix in sugar and flour with eggs.
Mix in the lemonade.
Divergent is showing now in theatres.