Katifer Lawdeen: Life imitates art between J-Law and Katniss

Monday, December 7, 2015 - 12:59pm

NOSELL

Lionsgate

 

As an impressionable high school freshman, I fell into the trap of reading whatever my classmates were raving about. So, of course, I found myself lounging on a beach chair with a copy of “The Hunger Games” during the summer of 2012. When my friends asked how much I loved the novel, I didn’t want to ruin their excitement, so I gave it a solid 10 out of 10. Honestly, though, it was only a 6.5 in my mind.

What fell flat for me in the first novel and only proceeded to get worse in the other two was that I couldn’t connect with the characters, especially Katniss – she never seemed real enough. After the film franchise was announced, I was hopeful that Jennifer Lawrence would bring the character to life. But I couldn’t stand Katniss in “The Hunger Games,”  “Catching Fire” or even “Mockingjay - Part 1.” But then came “Mockingjay - Part 2,” and I’m still in awe of Lawrence’s performance.

I saw “Part 2” three weeks ago and up until recently, I was still processing why I felt that Katniss suddenly became so real. After a lecture in film class on effective acting, I finally realized that in the previous films, it felt like Lawrence was just playing the role of Katniss, but in “Part 2, ” Katniss becomes an extension of Lawrence herself.

Up until 2015, Lawrence has refrained from publicly sharing her opinions on feminism.  In October, she broke her silence by publishing a Lenny Letter (a feminist newsletter curated by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner), where she outlined her experience with unequal pay as a woman in the Hollywood film industry. She writes about how even though she was met with backlash, she still didn’t back down. Similarly, Katniss is often met with resistance from Gale, but she either ignores his criticisms or calls him out on his own questionable choices.   

Speaking of Gale, while “Hunger Games” is not as dependent on the love triangle as “Twilight,” romance is definitely a dominant theme. In “Part 2,” the boy-drama is diluted, as Katniss keenly focuses on eliminating President Snow and improving life for the citizens of Panem. As she tries to sleep in the tunnels, she overhears Gale and Peeta discussing their relationships with her. Instead of intently trying to listen in, she closes her eyes and it quickly cuts to the next scene.

Similarly, Lawrence didn’t let Chris Martin’s (a former boyfriend) indecision over her and his ex-wife distract her from executing a potentially Oscar-worthy performance. Though Katniss often disregards the words of her advisors, it would almost be more fitting to title the film “Mission Impossible: Rogue Katniss.” Most of her actions are calculated risks; she usually doesn’t take them unless the odds are more in her favor than not.

This sudden surge of ambition can once again be attributed to Lawrence’s personality. Earlier this month, during a promotional tour for “Mockingjay - Part 2,” Lawrence officially announced that she’d like to be a director. Her first potential film, “Project Delirium,” is not seen by many as “her type of film.” The movie is said to adapt a New Yorker story about James Ketchum, the retired psychiatrist and U.S. army colonel and his involvement with a secret LSD experimentation program. If this project is picked up by a producer, Lawrence has made it clear that she will only direct, and not star, in it. 

Saving her best Katniss performance for last, Lawrence gives dissatisfied readers an impressive conclusion to the series. Unfortunately, this is the last time we’ll ever see Katniss and Lawrence in harmony. Or, more cleverly, Jeniss Everence or Katifer Lawdeen (still trying to decide which one is better).