Divergent Movie Poster Image


Strong female character leads in violent dystopia.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 143 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The lead character deals with important issues about identity and finding her place in a controlling society. Tris and Four struggle with what it really means to be selfless, brave, smart, and kind, as they explore trusting their own beliefs rather than those imposed by the separatist government.

Positive role models

Tris sometimes doubts herself but taps into her courage and ingrained selflessness to protect others even when she doesn't realize it, like when she stands up for Al and takes a punishment for him. Four encourages Tris to use her upbringing's focus on selflessness to be even more courageous. Tris and Four offer a positive example of a teen relationship; they treat each other as equals, defend and protect each other, and go slow with their romance.


There is a less violence in the movie than in the book, but it's still a violent story. Several characters are shot at, injured, or killed including beloved parents. Teen siblings are orphaned by the end of the movie. The Dauntless faction of brave risk takers requires a brutal initiation that includes several scenes of bloody hand-to-hand combat (until someone can't get up any more), knife-throwing, marksmanship, and more. Characters are routinely sparring and injuring one another -- or entering fear simulations to deal with their greatest fears, whether it's wild animals, confined spaces, drowning, etc. A character commits suicide and his dead body is briefly shown. Three masked guys grab Tris, beat her up and nearly throw her to her death. Christina is forced to hang off of a ledge for a certain amount of time to atone for her cowardice. During a climactic sequence, drugged soldiers shoot and kill unarmed citizens.


In addition to a few longing looks, just one long passionate kiss (with the guy shirtless), and some heartfelt embraces. During a fear simulation, Tris imagines Four kissing her on a bed and trying to convince her to have sex before she's ready, but she defends herself.


A couple of uses of "bitch," "s--t,"  and "a--hole." Other insults include "Stiff," "coward," "stupid," "loudmouth."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In one scene it looks like some of the Dauntless are drinking, but it's not clear.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Divergent is the first adaptation of author Veronica Roth's best-selling dystopian trilogy. Set in a future Chicago, the movie is slightly less violent than the book but still depicts the brutal world of a post-apocalyptic society divided into factions or groups. People are killed, orphaned, injured, and thoroughly beat up in bloody hand-to-hand combat (including guy-on-girl fist fights), violent bullying, an armed occupation, and mass killings of unarmed people. There's a central romance, but it remains fairly chaste -- only some longing looks, embraces and one extended, passionate kiss. The movie features a brave, vulnerable, and fierce female main character.  

What's the story?

In the distant future, Chicago is cut off from the rest of America in a society strictly divided into five factions based on character traits -- Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the kind), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice "Tris" Prior (Shailene Woodley) is a 16-year-old Abnegation-born teen whose government-sponsored personality test reveals she is DIVERGENT-- meaning she doesn't fit into just one faction. After choosing to join Dauntless, Tris must survive a brutal (and bloody) initiation process under the tutelage of her handsome, mysterious instructor Four (Theo James). Together they discover that the Erudite, led by Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), plan to kill all Divergents and take control of the government -- unless Tris and Four can stop them.

Is it any good?


The movie adaptation of the popular YA series benefits from a talented cast, a spot-on visual depiction of the factions, the Dauntless Pit, and the story's urban Chicago setting. The acting ensemble is as good as the cast of The Hunger Games and vastly superior to that of Twilight and the forgettable Vampire Academy and Mortal Instruments adaptations. While Woodley doesn't fit the canon description of Tris, she captures the character's mix of vulnerability and courage, her desire to be independent in a world that demands conformity. And although heartthrob Theo James is almost too manly looking for Woodley's doe-eyed ingenue, he definitely gets the job done as the intensely serious Four.

But the movie doesn't live up to the hype or the potential of the written series. The Dauntless initiation process isn't as violent or emotional on the screen as it is on the page, and neither is the buildup of the Tris and Four romance or Tris' friendship with her fellow transfer initiates. Considering the two-and-a-half-hour runtime, there are parts that drag on and yet aspects of the book that seem surprisingly cut. The performances (Winslet is fabulous as the icy Erudite leader, and Zoe Kravitz, Maggie Q, and Jai Courtney are all true to the spirit of their characters) make up for some of the pacing and screenwriting issues, but overall this adaptation falls short of fan expectations. Still, tweens and teens who've read the books should absolutely see the movies and hope the second and third installments fare better.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of violent dystopian stories aimed at teenagers. What purpose does the violence serve in Divergent? Is it different to see violence rather than to read about it? How does the violence in the book compare to the movie?

  • How does Tris compare to other female protagonists in young adult books and movies? What are her views on love, family, and relationships? Does she have the qualities of a role model?

  • Discuss the central romance between Tris and Four. Were you surprised at how slowly it progressed? What messages about love and sex does the film communicate?

  • Fans of the book: Was the movie a faithful adaptation? What differences did you like, which scenes from the book did you miss?

  • How do the characters in Divergent demonstrate courage? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 21, 2014
DVD/Streaming release date:August 5, 2014
Cast:Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Director:Neil Burger
Studio:Summit Entertainment
Topics:Book characters, Great girl role models
Character strengths:Courage
Run time:143 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality

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Parent Written byhope2014 March 21, 2014


I have to say trying to stay within the "know" is becoming more challenging. Just sitting in a theatre watching PG13 trailer adds before a movie these days can send you and your child home with visual nightmares of perfectly computer generated monsters we know aren't real but stamped in our minds for later in your sleep, off that soap box, but for this movie, it really is different (less violent if you believe!) from the trilogy, however, don't kid yourself, plenty of girls fighting girls, boy vs girl, kids having to make unthinkable decisions in any human mind to kill there parents/siblings and village in order to survive and live by the path they are made to choose. And God forbid if your child is a dreamer and adapts to many things like a majority of us, the entire movie is about if you are a divergent you have to hide within or you will be murdered by the government and your peers and they will force you to hunt down your family and they die also. It is very disturbing. I don't understand this form of virtual new world. Needless to say the characters are played by great actors (a few are past soap opera actors) but definitely not what our kids need to see and watch for 2 hours of what really reminded me of I learned of concentration camps during history lessons of the holocaust. Oh and one line I thought was silly not to mention many others were "You seem depressed, lets go get tattoos!" Don't waste your time, I'm more worried about the graphical detailed violence my young teenager has read. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR KIDS DONT DROP THEM OFF AND LEAVE THEM WITH FRIENDS AT A MOVIE!!< GET A TICKET AND SIT WHERE THEY CAN'T SEE YOU IF YOU HAVE TOO! They may be upset with you for a while but they get over it!- I'm done
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byCSM Screen name... March 21, 2014

Tells the story but not greatly impacting

Took two 14 year olds to see it. Do not expect the raw emotion as in HG. It's 2hrs. 23 min. and doesn't need to be. Couldn't empathize with lead female character. Haven't read book. I asked my daughter if the female character was this less interesting and she said yes. I felt more for the lead male character as he had a background that he overcame which made him stronger and that came through in the movie. The movie didn't let you feel the desperation that each faction was going through. The movie felt more like you were watching the news. Did it tell the story? Yes...Did it get you emotionally invested? No. And I wish it had. Wait for DVD. There is a good 20 to 30 minutes of not much going that if you took a bathroom break you wouldn't have missed anything. Save yourself the money spent at the theater. It's too bad because it is a story about embracing our differences and it didn't do that job well. I can even take my 9 year old to see it ...but he is not allowed to see HG. That's the real difference.
Parent of a 12 year old Written byKent in Ventura March 24, 2014

Much to Discuss, but Rather Predictable Plot

Though there is plenty of action and a fair amount of violence, it isn't too graphic or too disturbing; some of the later Harry Potter films were more graphic. (Definitely PG13, though.) The arc of the plot and the outcome are fairly predictable. Other than the two leads, most of the characters are two-dimensional and underdeveloped. Beyond that, if your tween or teen is introspective and/or struggling to navigate school cliques, there is much to discuss: What factions are at your school? Which faction are you in? Did you choose it or was it assigned to you? What happens to the faction-less kids at your school? Would society really work better if everyone knew their place?