A brand new release on iTunes, James Morrison’s independent science-fiction film Diverge through Gravitas Ventures is certainly going to be one of the talking points of 2018. It has already won awards, notably the US in Progress festival in Paris where it received a Post Production and Promotion accolade. It also premiered August 2017 in Texas as part of the Other Worlds Austin’s year-round ‘Orbiter’ programme.
We must stress (if the title has prompted some anticipation in fans) that it is in no way related to the recent Shailene Woodley Divergent films - and in terms of tone evokes classic Philip K. Dick, with a hint of Twelve Monkeys thrown in for good measure
Dick’s work certainly will be the point of reference, given that a company in the film is called Tyrell.
To that end, it is certainly something that you will have to get your mind around, as it is intellectually-challenging science-fiction and your acceptance of some of the central ideas will be based on whether you accept one of the concepts of alternate reality and time-travel here that in some ways is against the grain of what you have seen before.
At the film’s outset, a husband and wife, Chris and Anna Towne (Ivan Sandomire and Erin Cunningham) are wandering through a desolate apocalyptic landscape, seemingly infected by a pandemic that has consumed the world. One night, they encounter a stranger who has a Geiger counter - which reveals that Chris is OK, but Anna is infected by the virus, personified by scars on her neck. Soon after, Chris finds himself in a lab with electrodes attached to his skull and the line between fantasy and reality starts to blur….
Diverge is going to polarise opinions with its complex narrative and left-field ideas. Shot over a year and a half (from a script that according to an online interview with the director took an additional year). Visually it reminds one of the Viggo Mortensen apocalyptic affair The Road, although given some of the time-travel transitions is less of a downer than that film was as we aren’t totally in the virus-ravaged landscape.
There are some neat visual touches (the smoking ruins of the city in the distance are very effective and not dissimilar to the cityscape in Charles Band’s Trancers) and its mindset belongs firmly in the realm of the recent Apes reboots about the consequences of recognizing the potential of medical advances.
Sandomire is very good in the lead role and holds the film together. Overall though, the smartly-written script will have the potential for repeat viewings to try and concoct where and how things unfold at the conclusion. Like last year’s excellent Imitation Girl, Diverge has much more to offer than CGI-action and pyrotechnics.
DIVERGE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JAMES MORRISON / STARRING: IVAN SANDOMIRE, JAMIE JACKSON, ANDREW SENSENIG, ERIN CUNNINGHAM / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 6TH