The Divide Review

The Divide

Mind the gap.

It’s a soundbite you’ll hear often enough when travelling around London, but live in this morally bankrupt city for long enough and you’ll be forgiven for thinking it means something else.

Under Boris Johnson’s stewardship, and his conservative party’s politics of greed, London has become a city for the uber rich to park their ill-gotten gains in luxury apartments that sit empty while said rich folk profit on the criminally insane housing market we they’ve helped to create.

Meanwhile, on the streets of London, the working classes are squeezed between stalled salaries and the ever increasing costs of living, food banks keep families afloat and homelessness seems like a viable solution to an unchecked and out of control rental market.

This is capitalism in action, and director Katherine Round’s film The Divide tries to show us just how wide the gap between the haves and the have not’s has become.

Unfortunately, Round has gone down the soft journalism path by following seven people from various backgrounds to highlight the growing inequality in our civilisation.

So we get to learn a little about folk on both sides of the Atlantic, and see first-hand how the working classes in america and Britain are struggling to make ends meet.

We also meet one or two social climbers in these societies, whose main purpose is to highlight just how deluded people who aspire to be rich usually are.

There’s the venture capitalist who tells you how he has to create something every day, though presumably he’s not talking about someone else’s debt; and there’s an egotistical psychologist for even richer Wall Street types, even though he’s the one who seems most in need of some professional help.

Which is amusing and all, but doesn’t really tell you anything you didn’t already know.

We also discover that poor people probably aren’t gonna live as long as their richer brothers and sisters, and are more likely to end up in jail.

Glad I was sitting down for that.

There’s really nothing wrong with focusing on the anecdotal stories of real people as Round does in The Divide, even if they’ve clearly been chosen to support the point she wants to make with this film.

But having reviewed and loved The Big Short earlier in the year, I was hoping The Divide would be a hard hitting companion piece that investigated the state sponsored reasons behind our global inequality.

Unfortunately for Round, Adam McKay’s Oscar winning film also manages to reveal more about the desperate and venal world we live in than her documentary.

And it’s got Margot Robbie in a bathtub.

The Divide’s heart is in the right place, but that doesn’t bridge the gap between being an average documentary and a great one.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

April 2016