Once again….it’s FRIDAY!!! I know everyone is excited about the weekend beginning, and that must mean it’s ALSO time for Friday Spotlight! Continuing with the current theme of new and rising stars in that great body of water that is the Hollywood talent pool, I choose yet another actress who, as the years have gone by, has truly come into her own and made a serious mark for the young generation. Having started in independent film like the first two I have highlighted so far, she has already been elevated to superstardom….at age 23! Her name……Jennifer Lawrence.
I keep being awed by the raw talent of so many of these young actors and actresses, as I have mentioned so often, and Ms. Lawrence is most certainly no exception. When you first consider she only started acting at age 14, to say she’s accomplished a LOT in a very short amount of time would be an understatement! My first exposure to her acting talent was in the 2011 film, “X-Men: First Class” where she got to dig into the younger version of the shape-shifting mutant, Mystique. Right from the start, I loved how much of a straight-forward approach she brought to the role. Given the character’s grown-up temperament and mentality in the other X-Men films prior, it was actually refreshing to see this almost innocent and vulnerable version of her, which Lawrence really brought to life. A year later, in November 2012, the name Jennifer Lawrence would TRULY come to the forefront as she took on the role of Katniss Everdeen in the film adaption of the popular young adult book series, “The Hunger Games“. Now, however, a pause here…..I was actually NOT a HUGE fan of the first film. I liked it, but it didn’t completely engage me enough to call myself a fan. Lawrence’s performance initially didn’t even stick out to me THAT much. Of course she did well, but…..The film exploded worldwide and hence it was immediately evident the sequels were coming. However, I must leave that behind for a moment…
A co-worker of mine had been telling me for a long time about a small independent film I had to see, 2010’s “Winter’s Bone“, which was actually Lawrence’s big break. After seeing the bigger, event-level films above, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I just went ahead and bought the DVD for the film strictly on my friend’s recommendation and the critical raves I read about it as well. Let me say, Lawrence is a wonder in this film, at age 20, playing a SERIOUSLY mature role…and yet, for me, it was done in such a real, subdued, and UNDERstated way….THAT was the amazingness of it. Lawrence plays Ree, a young girl in the Ozark Mountains who ends up having to fight for the safety of her younger siblings and a sickly mother when her drug-dealing father disappears before his upcoming trial. Wanting to know the truth about what actually happened to him, and despite the warnings of her father’s brother Teardrop (John Hawkes) not to poke around, she makes every attempt to find out as much as she can, even at the risk of her life. It is a harsh story about harsh realities, and yet I could not help but sit there amazed at the depth of Lawrence’s portrayal of Ree, rooting for her to find the answers, and how I thought Jennifer COULD have OVERacted the part, but really did the opposite, which again, just added to the actual depth of her performance. Not a joyous film by ANY means, but a real example of new acting talent coming to life. The role won Lawrence both a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination.
NOW we come back to “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire“. THIS was the film in that series so far that REALLY captured my attention. Lawrence brings a whole new level of emotion and intensity to the Katniss Everdeen character that honestly made me forget about the first film. With the story amping up in the aftermath of the first film, Lawrence just emotes the multiple-level turmoil her character is experiencing between getting over the death and savagery of the previous Games, to dealing with the sudden popularity and celebrity she is thrust into, to wanting revenge on the Capital for the totalitarian rule they place over the Districts, to getting thrown into the NEXT Games. By the time they get to THAT instant, I was already drained from everything Katniss is having to go through. And for me, Lawrence’s performance only got better from there. By the end of the film, I was SO ready for Part 3, having felt every emotion displayed. And finally, there is her AWESOME supporting turn as Christian Bale‘s wife in “American Hustle“. All I will say…..Lawrence stole every scene she was in. Just incredible and again, playing a part that seems beyond her age AND doing it SUCCESSFULLY against some VERY established actors. Add to all of this her award-winning performance in “Silver Linings Playbook“, which I have yet to see, the upcoming return as Mystique in “X-Men: Days of Future Past“, re-teaming with Bradley Cooper (Third time!) for the Depression-era drama “Serena“, and the completion of the “Hunger Games”, “Mockingjay: Part 1 & 2”
And to top it even MORE off….Lawrence is one of the most humble, down-to-earth stars you would ever meet, as she actually doesn’t really embrace her celebrity, read here. Until next time, and as always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Cheers!