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By Bobby LePire | March 31, 2023

Star Jaime Andrews makes her screenwriting debut with the dramatic thriller Division. Directed by Jason Winn, the film is about an actress, Andi James (Andrews), who had a brush with fame a while back on a beloved show. She and her fiance, Zach (Curt Bonnem), have recently moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles. However, COVID hits and stunts their ability to get out and know the city. With Zach busy in his basement studio recording audio books, Andi decides to start vlogging. Her following is small but loyal.

The most loyal of Andi’s fans is Mason (Joshua Payne), an Army veteran. He and his hot-headed roommate, Mark (David Lee Garver), are getting riled up as the 2020 election is coming up soon. Frustrated that the pandemic made him lose his job, Mason’s only solace comes from commenting on Andi’s vlogs. So one day, he convinces her to chat with him on the phone. With Zach seemingly aloof and desperate for any human interaction (though her dog is adorable), Andi agrees. The two have a nice chat and eventually decide to meet in person. But soon enough, it is discovered that Andi and Mason fall on diametrically opposed sides, politically speaking. Can the two bridge the division U.S. politics causes, or is that a bridge too far?

Division is flawless, a daunting character study that ends on the perfect note, tragic though it is. Andrews has written a realistic, relatable drama with three-dimensional characters, each with foibles and strengths. Understanding what Zach and Andi get from each other takes a good chunk of the speedy 100-minute runtime. He gets easily annoyed at her and only occasionally shows his fiance affection. But, in the second-best scene of the film, Zach informs Andi of something he just learned on the news. This causes the duo to laugh it up together, reveling in schadenfreude. Here it becomes readily apparent that Zach’s terse actions are just how he’s dealing with the lockdown and are never meant to be aimed at Andi personally.

“…Andi and Mason fall on diametrically opposed sides, politically speaking. Can the two bridge the division U.S. politics causes…”

The screenplay also brilliantly adds layers to the two leads. Mason buys and delivers his mom’s groceries weekly and gets offended when anybody speaks ill of her. Andi’s podcasting friend, Delany (K.D. O’Hair), and neighbor Aya (Corrye Harden), allow the character to relax, presenting a new side to her. The way politics are weaved in makes its use more than just some convenient plot device. It truly is at the heart of the film’s themes. And again, the stunning conclusion conveys this message clearly without copping out or backing down.

Winn keeps the pace tight, allowing each scene room to breathe without overstaying their welcome. But, it is the cast of Division who adds that extra bit of movie magic. Andrews is terrific in a complicated role. At one point, she has the audience (almost) rooting for her to cheat on her fiance. Payne plays his part with both a sweet side and a seething amount of anger. He is most compelling. Bonnem walks that line between unduly icy versus affable with grace. Harden is hilarious as the neighbor, while O’Hair makes the most of her brief scenes.

Division will probably make some people mad. Such folks refuse to acknowledge reality anyways, so let them be misguided, misinformed, and raging for all the wrong reasons. Winn directs with supreme confidence, balancing the tone and pacing effortlessly. Andrews turns in a one-of-a-kind performance, while her script uses a political backdrop to explore relatable and real characters. Any and all cinephiles, no matter their political leanings, need to check out this independently produced masterpiece as soon as possible.

For more information, visit the official Division site.

Division (2023)

Directed: Jason Winn

Written: Jaime Andrews

Starring: Jaime Andrews, Joshua Payne, Curt Bonnem, David Lee Garver, etc.

Movie score: 10/10

Division Image

"…need to check out this independently produced masterpiece as soon as possible."

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