Film Review: The Divide

Fuck You Money

There are a great many stand out moments in Katharine Round’s excellent new documentary ‘The Divide’ (2015), itself inspired by the critically acclaimed book ‘The Spirit Level’ (by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett) and both dealing with the turbo charged increase in the division of wealth in western society, and it’s (deliberate) calamitous consequences which will only result in generations of ordinary folk suffering from a form of post traumatic stress disorder. That of course would be quite okay for the big pharma industry who would be able to provide a suitable drug to sedate/subjugate/dampen/mask such trauma for an extortionate price, particularly if the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) actually gets passed. And in a America where 700,000 people go bankrupt every year due to medical debts (the system the UK’s Conservative government are currently aiming towards), it’s a good idea to pay attention to what’s actually going on around us.


The documentary fits into a huge repertoire of movies and documentaries that are forthcoming and already out that cover the build up to the 2008 banking ‘crisis’ and it’s subsequent fallout. Said fallout was only felt by the vast majority of the populace of multiple countries. The actual folk who created it (possibly deliberately like drug dealers getting targets hooked on cheap drugs, ie money/credit) had minimal impact and if anything so many of them have hugely increased their (offshore) wealth while the entire world suffers. It’s ambulance chasing on a global scale, where they caused the crash, privately own the ambulances, the hospitals and your medical debt will now be legally bound to your family for generations, effectively it’s modern slavery.

Katherine shows the effect of the fallout across the economic spectrum via 7 individuals based in the UK and the USA. At each end is a gated community, Keith is in an American prison having been there for many years due to the Clinton’s horrific Three-Strikes law and is nothing like the boy who was locked up and subsequently brutalised for decades. At the other end is Alden an American Wall Street Psychologist who has aspirations to live in a wealthy gated community with his wife and kids where they can pretend they are protected from the realities of the world. It’s safe to say the people in the actual prison seemed to be more down to earth and ‘normal’ than the gated community.


The other folk are a series of clearly decent ordinary people who have been forced into various financially dire situations where there seems to be little if any hope. In fact the concept of hope increasingly appears to be only an option for the wealthy. There a few moments when you want to reach out to the screen and just give these folk a supportive hug, especially American mum and single parent Leah who works in a KFC and can’t even afford to die (she did actually die at one stage) as she has to look after her kids. But it won’t be long before even offering a hug in the USA will be deemed a socialist and therefore a terrorist act.

The vast majority of the individuals are struggling and Katharine has done a fantastic job in finding real humans whose stress we completely relate to, that is except (at least to me) Alden and his wife, who despite their highly educated backgrounds and Aldens profession, seemed to be the most deluded and least aware of being brainwashed into the lie that is the ‘American Dream’. There’s a singular scene where Alden goes for a ‘run’ and is effectively spouting lines that would have been dropped by Gordon Geko in ‘Wall Street’ as he poses with what his mind is telling him is abject masculinity and success, whereas I see an over weight, unfit guy in brand new sports gear (probably bought for the shoot). He also spends most of his day ‘working’ and as such never sees his daughters, so he must be planing to have them as clients when they are older.


There is so much more humanity and sincerity in the prisoner Keith or Scottish rapper (former alcoholic) Darren than anything that sounds like an ad campaign broadcasting from Alden, and it is a warning sign for what not to aim for, particularly after the telling words of Alexis Goldstein who used to work at Deutsche Bank and spoke about peoples desire to aim for ‘Fuck You money’ that made them effectively omnipotent. The solution won’t come from isolationism, retreating to a bunker and building ever higher walls, it comes from sharing information and working together for the common good. ‘The Divide’ is a worthy contributor to that campaign, and you owe it to yourself, your family and to everyone else to see it.


‘The Divide’ is out in cinemas now.