Shailene Woodley is a fantastic actress, whose name is not all that well known unless you’ve seen The Descendants or Spectacular Now, or for some reason watched a lot of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Her name is heavily trafficked on sites like Vulture and The Playlist, however, as one of those indie actresses, like Jennifer Lawrence once was, on the brink of stardom.
Could she ascend with Divergent? It’s hard to say. Outside of The Hunger Games and Twilight, Hollywood hasn’t actually been that successful in adapting YA novels to the screen, and Divergent hits some of the same themes we’ve seen in The Hunger Games and another of the recently failed YA adaptations, The Host. The trailer lays out the premise, and hits all the familiar beats in a way that feels comfortable, but not particularly illuminating (it’s another trailer that fits under the category of “They all look the same.”)
The difference maker here, however, is Kate Winslet, who is not an actress that typically takes paycheck roles. She may have changed after two years off, but with Neil Burger (The Illusionist) in the director’s chair, I’m willing to give the movie the benefit of the doubt, and assume that it’s got a little more to say than the blandly familiar but decent trailer suggests.