‘Dark Divide’ Tells the Compelling Story of a Researcher in Search of Inner Peace

Ulises Duenas


When feeling overwhelmed or lost, many people turn to nature in their search for answers. Studies have been done about the positive effects nature can have on someone’s mentality, but even without the data, there’s an undeniable allure that the great outdoors has.


The Dark Divide stars David Cross, and is based on a real-life event. In 1995 researcher Robert Pyle entered the vast wilderness of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. He set out to catalog the area’s flora and fauna, specifically butterflies, since much of the forest was still uncharted at the time. Early on, though, it's clear that Pyle is there for other reasons other than his research. One of the goals of his journey is to find absolution and direction after the death of his wife. 


You see flashbacks throughout the movie of Pyle with his wife and the struggles he went through while supporting her through her battle with cancer. These scenes serve as an emotional backbone to the film, and Cross’s performance has surprising nuance. The performance given by Debra Messing as Robert’s wife, Thea, is also good, but I didn’t think they had enough chemistry together to give their scenes extra impact. 


While Dark Divide doesn’t offer big comedic moments, it does have some nice subtle scenes worth a chuckle. Cross is good at being naturally funny with his distinct voice and body language. The focus of the movie is mainly developing Pyle’s character and conveying the motivation for his journey. Part of this feels like he owes it to his late wife to finish his hike to the gorge and write a book about the ecology of the park. It’s clear that he’s in way over his head and doesn’t know just how grueling the trek will be, but that’s where some of the humor comes from and it’s delivered well.


Overall, the pacing of the movie is pretty slow. However, there are scenes in the last part of the movie that make whole experience worth it. It’s those scenes that show Cross’s range as an actor and drive home the meaning of the film. The story is even more interesting when you consider that it all actually happened to the real-life Robert Pyle. Even though it’s a slow burn, I would still recommend The Dark Divide.


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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