The Divide

 

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This documentary looks at seven memorable individuals whose lives reflect the current situation in which economic division is creating social division.

 

Divide, The

 

Katherine Round’s film was inspired by a statistic but what counts in it are the people. Influenced by the book The Spirit Level written by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett who both appear here, the film is a reflection on the statement that the wealth of the top 0.1% in America and the U.K. equates with what is owned by the bottom 90.0% of the population. In the course of the film, which also incorporates old footage of American presidents and British politicians, we hear from economists and psychologists as well as from such famous names as Noam Chomsky and Sir Max Hastings. That could make The Divide sound a rather dry endeavour but it is far from that. In part this is down to Round’s direction which is admirably cinematic and gains from the high quality of the photography by Woody James. But even more crucial is the fact that Round has chosen to focus principally on the stories of seven contrasted individuals who all prove extremely engaging.

Of the seven two live in the U.K.: Rochelle is a care worker with debts living in Newcastle and Darren struggles with alcoholism on the streets of Glasgow. At the polar extreme we have the financially secure Alden who is a psychologist working in New York’s Wall Street, while in California Jennifer, with her partner Ryan, can afford to live in a gated community but worries about being accepted by their neighbours. The other three featured are also Americans: there’s Leah, a black single mother with heart problems working as a waitress in Virginia after losing her partner of fourteen years, Keith who is encountered in prison and is embittered by an excessively long sentence and Janet put out of business by Walmart but then finding employment with them (despite which she is not uncritical of their treatment of employees).

Whether or not The Divide actually proves anything may be open to doubt: it comes across as a film about modern life in which everybody is under some degree of stress and pressure (that applies as much to the two representatives of the well-off as to the others). What is certain is that Katherine Round’s film hooks the viewer through her choice of seven individuals with the ability to take you into their lives and to share their stories. It is the humanity of the film that makes it so worthwhile. 


(Note: while the release date is shown below we are informed that this film will go on wider U.K. release at the end of May).

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Featuring: Rochelle Monte, Janet Sparks, Jennifer Cooper, Ryan Rapetti, Leah Taylor, Darren McGarvey, Keith Thomas, Alden Cass, Sima Cass, Noah Chomsky, Sir Alan Budd, Sir Max Hastings, Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett, Robert Frank.


Dir Katherine Round, Pro Katherine Round and Christopher Hird, inspired by the book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Ph Woody James, Ed John Mister, Music Andrew Hewitt.


Dartmouth Films/Literally Films-Dartmouth Films.
78 mins. UK. 2015. Rel: 22 April 2016. Cert. 12A
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