Monday, March 24, 2014
Cinema In Noir: Would Zoë Kravitz Have Made A Better Tris In DIVERGENT?
The more I think about the clunkiness of DIVERGENT, the more I consider ways it could have been fixed. As you know from my review of the film last week (which you can read here), I wasn't much of a fan, despite appreciating its smaller, underused elements. But after I spoke more about the movie on yesterday's "Cinema in Noir" (linked here), I've come to the startling realizing that the film may have benefited with Zoë Kravitz in the lead as Beatrice aka "Tris," and not Shailene Woodley.
In case you haven't seen the film, Kravitz plays Christina, a razor-tongued native of the Candor faction, who meets Tris later in the film when they are both members of the Dauntless faction. Despite being completely devoid of filter and beyond her tough girl cover, Christina shows signs of compassion and even weakness in certain challenges. Which makes her the more accessible and relatable character. These traits could have come in handy for Beatrice, whose ascent to Tris just came off far more contrived. I'm not sure whether this was Woodley or the bland script (likely a combination of the two), so I am just going with what they gave us, as the two actresses share a number of scenes together which further prove my theory.
I know Hollywood--and the media--has tried to shove dystopian YA heroine Woodley down our throats for the past few weeks, but I just didn't buy her in this role. I would have much rather seen what Kravitz could have done as Beatrice, the awkward but deliberate teen struggling with her new position as the face of a rebellion. From what I gather from the film, though this could be more fleshed out in the book (at least I hope), Beatrice is supposed to embody the virtues of each of the five factions--Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity and Candor (which is what is supposed to make her special as a Divergent). I'd say Woodley captures more Abnegation and Amity, and struggles with the others quite drastically, making her performance a bit unsettling at times. Meanwhile, Kravitz's performance is a bit more multidimensional as she effortlessly glides in between each of these virtues and seems to have a tighter grasp on the complexities of this apocalyptic wasteland.
This isn't to say Woodley is a bad actress (she can be pretty effective at times, actually), but just not right for this. Although, there is a sequel planned, so perhaps she will settle more into the role then. But I still keep thinking about Kravitz, who has proven in the past that she can take on a variety of roles from vulnerable in It's Kind of a Funny Story to kickass in X-Men: First Class (mind you, I didn't love either of these films but I do think they further enforced the fact that Kravitz could be a much bigger star than she is). She brings both nuance and a tough spirit to every role she tackles, which is what was desperately needed in a role like Tris. Plus, how often do we get to see a young woman of color lead a mega vehicle like this? Exactly.
Bottom line: Kravitz is the hero the younger generation deserves and needs, not some cardboard cutout. It's time to find a franchise for her to helm.
To listen to the full "Cinema in Noir" episode, click here.