It’s been a difficult year for Jennifer Lawrence, to say the least. While she is still every bit America’s sweetheart, the despicable intrusions into her private life inevitably mean she’s viewed through a somewhat different prism.
While watching her character Katniss deal with the demands of being an icon of the revolution, you can’t help but see the painful parallels with Lawrence’s own life.
“Don’t make me do this!” yells Katniss at one point – and I instantly thought of her angry denunciation of the people who hacked into her phone, and what she has said in interviews about the papparazzi. Lawrence has been dealing with the demands of fame admirably so far, but one can only hope that she doesn’t eventually crack.
But on to the movie itself: The beginning almost makes you think it’s about mental health, as Katniss and Finick (Sam Claflin) deal with the aftermath of the Quarter Quell in a haze of nightmares and tears. They’re also trapped in an underground refuge that only amplifies the sense of claustrophobia.
And yet, the rebels need her. “They”ll follow her. She’s the face of the revolution,” says the former Head Gamemaker Plutarch (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman). Just like Captain America, they need her to be a symbol. And for that, she’ll need the right costume, makeup and hairstyle.
“We will make you the best dressed rebel in history,” declares Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) “Everyone’s going to want to kiss you, kill you or be you.” And so it goes with the performance motif: everyone is putting on a show, from Katniss to rebel leader Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) to chief baddie President Snow (a deliciously evil Donald Sutherland), who is all sneers and taunts and casual execution orders.
And there are looong stretches where everyone is talking and talking about this scheme or that plot, or the fate of poor Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who has also been turned into a propaganda tool. Though there is one key moment from the books, where Katniss struggles to play her role, that is perfectly translated.
But once things get going, it’s almost a war movie, with Katniss and the newly friend-zoned Gale (Liam Hemsworth) armed by Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), the Q of the resistance. It looks and feels like a real insurgency, with the now fashionable (and uncomfortable) parallels with Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was a good idea to keep the movie to two hours – any longer, and it would have overstayed its welcome. Given that it’s been split into two, it was perhaps inevitable that it would feel unsatisfying. At times, it almost feels like a trailer for Part II.
But there’s a revolution to be fought, and lots more to come. You’ll just have to wait another year for it.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I is screening now. Tell us what you think of the movie!