So. The Hunger Games blew my mind right out of the water.
Where to begin? The film was every bit as good as I hoped it would be and maybe better. No, it’s not as good as the book and some things are missing. But it’s as good and true to the book as film can possibly be.
Jennifer Lawrence is perfection as Katniss, and somehow conveys all the complexities of our heroine. I have such a girl crush on this actress right now. Her talent is raw and true, and not at all reliant on being beautiful—but she is beautiful, in a subtle yet startling way. Jennifer Lawrence is the real deal.
Woody Harrelson all but steals the show as the maddening and hilarious drunk with a big heart that is Haymitch.
Lenny Kravitz looks sexy in gold eyeliner.
I have to admit that Josh Hutcherson pleasantly surprised me. Perhaps because of all of the press photos lately taken of him that beg me to think of him as a brooding stud (a la the utterly talentless Robert Patterson). But Josh’s Peeta was just so loveable, I wanted snuggle right up to him.
The severe fashions, garish make-up and ridiculous hair-dos as well as every single impeccably styled set at the Capitol are a feast for the eyes. Peeta and Katniss are dumbstruck when they board the train and are greeted with crystal chandeliers, colorful sleek furniture and a buffet with riches of fruits and desserts. A stark contrast from the grays, browns, muted perpetually dirty color of their clothes and coal mining district where much of the population teeters on starvation. Effie Trinket, their escort from the Capitol, says (something along the lines of,) “I think its so wonderful that the tributes get to see and experience all this,” implying that seeing ‘all this’ and dying in the games is much better than living back in District 12 and never seeing it at all.
I read a review on the Village Voice that criticized: “Collins…through her very premise, astringently articulates her anger at a culture—ours—indifferent to inequity and war and besotted with its own stupidity. But the book’s rage and despair are diluted here, focusing too much on the high-tech gimmickry of the Gamemakers…” I completely disagree with this. Take the example above—how could you miss Effie’s stupidity—that to experience high fashion, style and luxurious food trumps the very right to life? Was this reviewer not filled with rage and despair when the gamemaker, Seneca Crane’s, produced a self-satisfied smile as he sent in lethal mutts to chase after and kill these teenagers in one of those “high-tech gimmickry” scenes?
Books aside, here’s the Panem I saw in the film:
A culture in which there are the very rich and the very poor.
The rich are obsessed with beauty, glamour, big lights and spectacle—oh, and violence and reality TV. The night before 24 teenagers are sent off to fight to the death, they crowd the streets delightedly chanting Hunger, hunger. They feel entitled to everything they have, and don’t give a second thought to at whose expense their wealth is won. And the poor? Well they don’t have much say or choice in much of anything at all. Hmmm…sound familiar?
I was on the verge of tears for the entire first half of the film. I kept thinking: Why is the story so affecting? Why can’t I stop thinking about it? Why do I want to read the books all over again and see the movie 10 more times? Maybe because it holds by the throat and shakes you awake. Because it rouses those deep human emotions–fear, hope, rage, despair…and love. The ones that make us feel alive.
And then there’s Katniss. My hero. My brave-but-afraid, strong-but-vulnerable, ordinary-but-extraordinary, tender-but-kick-ass hero.
Right back at you girl.