The Divide [Blu-Ray] Xavier Gens

The Divide [Blu-Ray] Xavier Gens
There's nothing more dangerous or pathetic than a person stripped of hope. Xavier Gens (Hitman), working from a script by Karl Mueller and Eron Sheean, takes a bleak, misanthropic view of the human response to massive, status quo-shattering destruction. In a beautifully shot opening scene, we see that a bomb's been dropped, and the inhabitants of a large apartment building descend into hysterical panic seeking safety. A handful of people force their way into a shelter in the basement before the gruff, racist superintendent can get the door shut. As they grow increasingly paranoid and desperate, these survivors of an unknown calamity gradually discover that they have much more to fear from each other than whatever's going on outside, as psychosexual mind games and strutting power struggles reveal the ugly id impulses of defeated minds seeking hedonistic gratification during their final downward spiral. Initially, an early incursion into the group's vault by mysterious assailants seems like an abandoned plot thread, interjected primarily to beef up the action, and while it is effective for that reason, it becomes clear that the lack of resolution is essential in eradicating the final vestiges of the group's faith in salvation. In what's unfortunately the only bonus material included with the beautiful and disturbing feature, it's interesting to learn that Gens heavily encouraged improvisation by his predominantly strong ensemble cast, so much so that it altered the nature of the primary antagonistic relationships. Even though the dialogue occasionally suffers as a result, the change of trajectory resulted in a story with a higher degree of moral complexity that challenges the notion of what fundamentally constitutes a good or bad person. The strongest performers in the film – Michael Biehn, Michael Eklund and Milo Ventimigila, with the exception of Rosanna Arquette, who can ditch her dignity to go to debasing places like only a person who's had a leg scar licked on film by James Spader can – contribute to the entertaining and informative commentary, along with Gens. While it would have been nice to get a look behind the scenes at the gorgeous bookending shots, or the construction of the serene and beautiful score, at least the essential players take the opportunity to jovially discuss the deliberate manner in which this powerful and confrontational picture was shot. Recommended, if you can stomach unhealthy amounts of degradation. (Anchor Bay)