The Divide tells the story of seven individuals striving for a better life in the modern-day UK and US — two countries where the top 0.1% owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%.
The British documentary is a sobering piece of research on a very modern problem: the UK and the US have achieved the highest level of economic inequality since 1928. By juxtaposing testimonies from rich and poor in both countries with economical analysis of commentators such as the former economic adviser to Margaret Thatcher, Sir Alan Budd, historian Sir Max Hastings, philosopher Noam Chomsky and epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot, The Divide successfully presents the world we live in. After all, documentaries are a good excuse to spy on other people’s life and compare them.
Despite not dealing with any major corruption scandals, the film raises some urgent questions: why do those two countries attract a record number of immigrants? How did capitalism delude generation after generation? And why is wealth so tempting?
The interviews clarify that income inequality affects all by skewing the economy in favour of a fraction of a population, with negative consequences for people’s health, life expectancy and quality of life.
A well-educated American psychologist epitomises the failure of capitalism in his country. He dresses to impress his rich clients claiming “I am looking good; I am dressed for success”. He has no time for his wife and kids, but he states “there is really no option”. As a psychologist, he would be more balanced. He should have learned how to stop letting social and economic pressures mandate his life.
A Wall Street analyst concludes that those aspects of inequality are not a reflection of capitalism per se, but rather a failure to implement it correctly. Sentences like: “it is ok to break the law if it is going to bring profit to the company” show that capitalism has become a pathological caricature of itself. It is funny to watch the rich driving golf cars inside private condos in Sacramento, in a new and vulgar symbol of ostentation.
The film launched a campaign to take action and make a difference. Inspired by a testimony of a middle-aged woman who works under a 0-hour contract at Walmart, the campaign believes that everyone can do something to improve the situation. You can click here in order to watch the video and join the campaign.
All in all, The Divide succeeds in denouncing the well-known dirty face of capitalism plus supporting it with convincing data, but it does not reveal anything new. The film will have a limited theatre release April 22nd, followed by general release on May 31st. Watch the film trailer below: