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The Divide


Jeff Nelson

Xavier Gens succeeds, once again, in drawing the audience in and leaving us with a very brutal and dark tale.

The Divide
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Those who recognize the name Xavier Gens should instantly know what to expect from The Divide. A dark, disturbing, and brutal feature that haunts you for days on end. This time, Gens is tackling an apocalyptic tale. With the Mayan Calendar and December 21, 2012 approaching, a lot of these 'end of the world' flicks have been being released. However, the majority of these movies aren't able to be as compelling as one would believe. Some of these movies are action flicks that are unable to connect with audiences, like 2012. Fortunately, The Divide avoids even speaking of the Mayan Calendar and focuses on many other subjects. One of which is the primitive state that humans can transform into when placed in a situation that brings that to the surface. I was a bit weary of seeing this in the theaters due to the fact that a lot of critics were bashing The Divide to no end. However, I ended up renting it on Netflix and I found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would. I will watch anything Xavier Gens creates, especially after seeing the surprisingly well-made Frontier(s).

After a disastrous explosion wipes out New York City, eight survivors blockade themselves in their apartment house basement, but claustrophobia and armed attackers turn the tenants against one another as they scramble to escape. While it's clear that this apocalyptic tale is caused by a nuclear attack, we don't know very much more than that. The audience is kept int he dark with nothing but small pieces of the puzzle to connect in order to guess regarding what even ultimately caused the nuclear attack on New York City. There isn't very much that's fed to the viewers as to many aspects of the film. We know just about as much as the characters do about such things. There isn't very much of a screenplay to critique since the screenwriters decided to take a step back on this one. While there's a basic script, a lot of The Divide is improv. Xavier Gens wanted the characters in this movie to descent into madness and not have dialogue specifically given to the actors. This is an interesting idea, although there certainly are times where you'll wish there was an actual script given. There are some lines of dialogue and actions made by characters that either don't make sense or will irritate you. To put it simply, The Divide is one of the most disturbing thrillers you'll see. It's filled with brutal violence, rape scenes, and drug abuse. By the time the credits are rolling, you're guaranteed to feel affected by what you just viewed. For days after I watched The Divide, some of the graphic scenes left a mark and they continued to pop up in my mind. While there are some major issues with the idea to have the actors improv most of the dialogue, the idea of how humans might react to certain situations is interesting. Xavier Gens tells a story of how our society could crumble and how humanity could change by such an event.

Despite the fact that I haven't heard of many of these actors, The Divide features some decent performances. Lauren German is strong in the main role of Eva. This is most certainly one of the only characters that audiences will stand behind, with the exception of a few of her character's dumb decisions. German is convincing from start to finish in the role. Michael Biehn delivers a very notable performance as the mysterious Mickey. We're never quite sure if he's a protagonist or antagonist, which is why I believe that he's all for himself. He doesn't receive as much screen time as some of the other characters, but he does a solid job in the role. Milo Ventimiglia is surprisingly in this, cast as Josh. His character is sure to be viewers' least favorite character in this picture. Despite that, he's actually a good antagonist and is quite convincing in that character. Perhaps the most haunting representation here is from Rosanna Arquette as Marilyn. She plays a mother who had her daughter taken away shortly after the blast and undergoes a psychotic break. Her performance is heartbreaking and very disturbing. There are multiple other characters that are down in this basement, but German, Biehn, Ventimiglia, and Arquette deliver the strongest performances here. The improv is hit and miss here, but the representations of the characters themselves are definitely solid.

If you know anything about Xavier Gens, then you know his visionary skills. They're excellent and seriously underrated in the film industry. He proves once again in The Divide that he's able to generate a dark, moody, and ominous atmosphere and makes it look easy. The camera work is fantastic as he fortunately has longer shots in this in order for the audience to see what's going on. Many of these types of thrillers have quick edits, which often moves far too quickly for many viewers to see the events unfolding on screen during the more intense portions of the movie. Xavier Gens takes his sweet time to take advantage of shots that involve scenes such as a man being lit on fire and somehow, with his talent and aid from the cinematography, make it look absolutely stunning. A lot of The Divide is filled with dialogue, although home theater speakers are utilized to their full potential for a feature such as this. There's constantly the rumble of explosions and destruction occurring, so there's a lot of bass in this flick. I cannot speak about audio in an Xavier Gens motion picture without bringing up Jean-Pierre Ta´eb. He has developed a score that is absolute perfection. I'm not particularly surprised since I've heard Ta´eb's work before. The visuals in this movie are incredible.

To put it simply, The Divide is sure to leave its audience disturbed. From the beginning up until when the credits are rolling, this motion picture is brutal and relentless. No character is safe and we're left with an ending that is up for interpretation regarding what will happen next. This is definitely a movie that will be either loved or hated. I found it to be rather good. However, I'm able to recognize the major flaws that the movie has, I still found it interesting. I would have liked to find out a little bit more about the characters. This isn't the type of movie that you enjoy, but experience along with the characters. Xavier Gens succeeds, once again, in drawing the audience in and leaving us with a very brutal and dark tale. The Divide is unique and is the type of film that not many filmmakers have the guts to make. It's very disturbing and doesn't let up until the credits are rolling.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

Next movie: Melancholia
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