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The Divide review: Inspired by the best-selling book The Spirit Level, this is the story of what happens to the rest of us when the rich get richer.

If you’ve been blissfully disregarding all the news, and specifically financial news, for the past 10-15 years then The Divide should justly shock you to the core. There’s no hiding the truth that as the banks get bailed out time and again for their mistakes and dodgy investments the rest of us suffer. But saying that, it isn’t categorically the ‘rest of us’ is it? The Divide review by Dan Bullock, April 2016.

The Divide review

Inspired by the book ‘The Spirit Level’ by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Katharine Round directs documentary The Divide that aims to expose the facts of extreme inequality between the rich and the poor that’s been expanding exponentially over the past 35 years. She follows the lives of 7 people, in both the UK and US, who are looking for a better life but while some are embracing the successes of hard work and rewards, the majority are struggling to make ends meet.

 “35 years ago an economic experiment in the US & UK was supposed to provide a better life for all. Today, in both countries, inequality is at its highest rate since 1928.”

This quote kicks off the documentary and is hugely relevant alongside being extremely important. Opening up our countries introduce the ‘free market’ was something that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan tried to sell and has immeasurably failed. For most of us. In 2016, I’d hope the common understanding is that the rich are getting richer and also appear to serve no punishment in taking any gamble they wish, even with our money. The outcome is that the poorer members of society – which adds up to most of us – are the ones that lose every time.

Interestingly, what Round’s insight reveals is the underlying perception of what a ‘better life’ is and the vast differences of that vision between the US and the UK. While Newcastle-based care worker (do read here for more on the UK elderly care system) Rochelle just wants a meal out and a more comfortable life so she can see her kids more, US psychologist Alden is looking towards living in a gated community, with a guard and a gun, to literally keep his family separate from the world outside – it’s a fictional dystopia in action. But this is real life and in that sense is disturbingly chilling.

The Divide also brings to light the lack of perceived reality taken by those trying to get richer and how out of touch they are with how the majority live. It’s important to say this isn’t something director Katharine Round forces upon us, because the better off people sharing their stories aren’t edited in a biased manner, but it’s clear to see from the facts bought forward that there are incredibly serious, important issues within our society that aren’t being discussed acceptably at the highest level. In my view, most government doesn’t really appear to speak for the people like it once did but this can change and in an ideal world such movements would be led by documentaries like this. It also reminded me of Jacob Kornbluth’s Inequality for All (2013) and I also recommend that for further insight.

It’s clear that things need to change and Round’s documentary arrives at a very important point in time where we should all assist in stirring up the truth and share it around to everyone concerned.

The Divide Review by Dan Bullock, April 2016.

The Divide is in cinemas from 22 April –  http://thedividedocumentary.com

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