Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in the world of Panem, and land rife with civil unrest. 74 years ago Panem, which is split into twelve working-class districts and one wealthy capitalist Capitol, was host to an uprising, during which the unruly numbered districts were defeated by the Capitol’s military powers, and during which District 13 was destroyed. As penance for this act, every year the Capitol holds an annual Hunger Games, for which a boy and girl aged 12 to 18 from each district are randomly selected, trained, presented to the public and thrown into a specially made arena to fight it out to the death, until only one player survives. Katniss lives in District 12, and the when her younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is picked in her first draw, Katniss volunteers in her stead. Her male counterpart is Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a baker who only tangentially knows Katniss. Katniss asks her friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) to look after her sister and emotionally frail mother (Paula Malcomson). Continue reading →
Soon to be slinking her way into Rebecca Romijn’s azure shoes as a young Mystique in X-Men First Class, Winter’s Bone sees newcomer Jennifer Lawrence as 17 year old Ree Dolly, charged with finding her meth-cooking runaway father, or be turned out into the woods after he placed their house up as collateral for his bail. Ree, who also cares for her 12 year old brother, 6 year old sister and mentally ill mother, sets about questioning her father’s relatives and associates, but is told to stop asking questions and just leave the matter alone.
Lawrence was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress, losing to Natalie Portman for Black Swan, but I’m not sure why. Yes, it’s a difficult character, appearing in every scene and dealing with an awful lot of frustration, anger and desperation, but I don’t think it’s as worthy as the other nominees on the list, it appeared as it showed a promising new talent that could be nurtured by a nomination. I don’t disapprove of this technique of bringing up new actors, but it’s not what the Oscars are for.
The film is not so much slow as it is unhurried, meandering from Ree’s quest as she teaches her siblings basic survival skills, how to shoot, hunt and prepare a squirrel for dinner, showing that for Ree life does not stop just because she has something to do.