"A unique spin on the time-bender type film"
Back to the Future
. X-Men: Days of Future Past
. What do these films and many others like it, have in common? These pictures deal with time travel in some way. Heck, time travel is the main plot device that moves the story forward. In any story with time travel as an element in it, time travel per se, is rarely what that story is about. Rather, how the characters move, what decisions they make, how they deal with challenges presented to them in a world where time travel exists, is more what the story is about. Writer/Director James Morrison’s award-winning and introspective offering, Diverge,
is another film that examines the human experience by way of exploring the time and space between the characters in this tale.
A devastating pandemic has claimed the lives of much of the world’s population, leaving survivors scrambling to stay alive. Chris Town (Ivan Sandomire) and his wife Anna (Erin Cunningham) are two such survivors. Anna moves closer to death with each passing day, while Chris desperately searches for a cure. They begin to believe for a while that they are the only two people around for miles. That is until they meet a mysterious man (Jamie Jackson) one evening who offers Chris a way to save his wife. Things go from bad to worse, and Chris soon finds himself in the most unexpected of situations.
might be described as a slow burn of a film, at least at the start. However, this is in no way a fault of the piece. A good portion of the first act is quiet and thoughtful. This is true of the film overall, but that first third for sure. This isn’t the case with some films that can come off as needing to fill nearly every frame, every scene with something. Here, there is room for Chris’ situation to set in for the audience, and without the use of excessive exposition. Morrison lets things breathe and develop organically. There is a minimalist approach and it works largely due to the strong and nuanced work from Sandomire and Cunningham. There is little to no use of music, which feels more authentic and atmospheric. There is an expansiveness to some of the wide shots that serve to depict just how desolate the world has become after much of human life has been wiped out.
Shot over the course of a year to capture the full spectrum of Chris’ journey, one sees the tremendous effort put into this film. Such small details like Sandomire’s very real beard, long hair and overall scraggly look add so much to the texture of the film. The musical score by the Blair Brothers is another one of those elements that creates an identity for the proceedings. It isn’t bombastic and in your face, but it does have a mesmerizing quality and that is a very good thing. The score punctuates the intimacy of the piece, particularly in terms of how characters connect with each other. Jackson and Sandomire have some of the more meaningful moments in the film and the music, where it is used, underscores much of this.
Morrison’s tight screenplay keeps everything together in a way that serves the story and more importantly, does not betray its own logic or parameters. At 85 minutes, one might assume the film would go by in a breeze with little substance. It doesn’t. There is plenty of time and space to digest and ponder along with Chris as he tries to figure out a way beyond his dilemma. Diverge
is as long as it needs to be, while remaining engaging. It doesn’t waste time in explaining how everything works. Proper and necessary time is devoted to things like a wonderfully constructed scene between Chris and the Leader at a diner. He is explaining that he was sent from a time beyond the outbreak of the virus in order to stop it before it happens. He isn’t taken seriously; and you believe that if Chris' situation was real, it would happen the way it was depicted here. This is a testament to the actors and Morrison’s steady direction.
If you’re looking for something a little different and unexpected, Diverge has you taken care of. This is a very good thing, since there are many motion pictures that feel predictable in some way. For some audiences used to more things happening more often, it might drag a bit before things really get going. For general film aficionados though, who are already open to diverge from their usual fare, this one is certainly worth a look.