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Jennifer Lawrence Isn’t Thin Enough To Play Katniss?

Jennifer Lawrence Isn’t Thin Enough To Play Katniss?

How faithful The Hunger Games movie is to Suzanne Collins’ novel is open to potentially endless debate. Based on last week’s record $155 million ticket sales when the movie opened, fans were eager simply to see the book brought to life on the big screen. Maybe Woody Harrelson wasn’t the Haymitch in your mind’s eye or Jennifer Lawrence the Katniss you saw in the Capitol’s arena, but there’s still a thrill to see a book you love made into a movie.

A New York Times review of the movie by Manohla Dargis finds that director Gary Ross’s film seems to “[smooth] even modestly irregular edges” from the novel’s “brutal, unnerving story.” “Details, characters, grim thoughts and cynicism have gone missing,” writes Dargis.

A certain “flattening” and simplification is perhaps inevitable when a novel, especially one like The Hunger Games, is Hollywoodized. Dargis finds Lawrence’s performance “bland” and “disengaged” but the comment that stands out is that the actress isn’t thin enough to play Katniss:

A few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry enough to play Katniss, but now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission.

Apparently having a “seductive, womanly figure” — curves and all that — disqualifies one from playing a character in The Hunger Games. Should only waif-like, hollow-cheeked, big-eyed, Twiggy-esque actresses have applied? Only actresses who look like they are starving probably because they are, having put themselves on some liquid-based regimen to get that properly “hungry,” “lean” look?

As if to reinforce this sobering point about how female actresses are judged first and foremost by their looks and weight is a report that actress Anne Hathaway is eating “fewer than 500″ calories a day — which is not enough calories at all, as The Atlantic Wire emphasizes — to film the death scenes of her character in the Les Misérables movie. According to The Daily Mirror, Hathaway has to lose “16lb in less than 20 days” and drop from being a British size 10 to a size 6 (from an American size 6 to a size 2).

So much (huge sigh) for awareness about eating disorders and efforts to teach adolescents to accept and take pride in their bodies as they are, and not seek to diet themselves into “properly” Hunger Games and Les Miz thinness.

The Hunger Games has legions of fans in no small part because of Katniss, the kind of fearless, independent, able-to-survive-in-an-apocalypse, kicka** heroine long favored by girls. Over-emphasis on her looks, and of those of the actress playing Katniss, makes it clearer than ever why girls — why we — need such characters as role models.

Related Care2 Coverage

Racist Hunger Games Fans Rebel Against Movie’s Diversity

Hunger Games Opens Friday – Why We Can’t Wait

How Harry Potter Unleashed the Forces of Good (Video)

 

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136 comments

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10:46PM PST on Dec 31, 2013

I disagree with what this article is saying, it's easy enough to jump up and down and take it as a bad thing BUT I think you're skewing the meaning of the review. Katniss has spent her whole life starving, she almost died of starvation and under those circumstances her body wouldn't have been as healthy looking as Jennifer Lawrence's body. Dargis is saying that Jennifer Lawrence doesn't look unhealthy or starving, he's not saying that she's not skinny enough to play Katniss. You'd have to find an unhealthy actor in order to get the true starved girl look but that's not possible. I personally think Jennifer Lawrence is a good fit for Katniss.

11:49AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

I think that this comment was fair... I thought the same thing when I saw the movie.

District 12 was supposed to be completely, desperately famished.... but Katniss was downright voluptuous with shining hair and radiant skin. (She is a beautiful woman and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way she looks!) The point being made is that she didn't fit her character at all. The book was harrowing in its detail of famine and death... but the movie didn't even get a fraction of the despair of these districs across. This is important, because its a direct reflection of the way our world is right now.

We gloss over the real issues with shiny heroines in tight fitting body suits. It would have been much more effective if Katniss had been more gaunt, but Hollywood would never go for that because sex sells, and Jennifer Lawrence is as sexy as they come!

This would have been an excellent opportunity to have a heroine that wasn't 100% gorgeous with an ordinary (thin yes, but ordinary. Those bodies are real too! Some women really are a size 2 naturally!!) with an interesting and unique look who was made to look haggard and impoverished. By choosing Jennifer Lawrence, and keeping her looking flawless throughought the whole movie (the most she ever got was a cut to the forhead for christ sake! She and Peta were supposed to be filthy and on death's door!) reinforces that the most important thing for a woman to be, regardless of how much ass kicking she does- is to be beaut

9:21AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

@Gene Good point about Agent Salt. It's great to see women in action roles (and I actually quite enjoyed that film) but please let's have them look like they can actually do the stuff they do.

7:14AM PDT on May 26, 2012

Thank you Krystyna for bringing up Christian Bale - he was down to about 110-120 pounds, which is FRIGHTFULLY thin for a man of his build. if he had even been just regularly thin for that role, it would have been entirely wrong for the movie. As for Anne Hathaway, she is losing weight for DEATH SCENES. I believe her character died of starvation and illness, so losing a fair amount of weight is appropriate for the part.

Why don't we get soooo bent out of shape when men bulk up ridiculously huge muscles to look like comic book (excuse me) graphic novel characters. talk about unrealistic! Not as dangerous, although I think working out for 6 grueling hours a day is punishment of a different type to your body.

A note on Katniss and book vs movie Hunger Games: I loved it. I loved her, I love the book, I thought the movie was Fantastic. Yes the whole district was pretty much starving, but Katniss hunted, foraged and traded for better food and herbs for her mother to sell/use as a healer, earning more money. Jennifer lawrence, thank heavens is not a toothppick - otherwise, she couldn't have managed a bow and arrow as she does in the books. The movie is "Hollywoodized" because of the horrific subject matter, and I was quite pleased that they got the message across about the total detachment of the Capitol residents to the rest of the country.

7:13AM PDT on May 26, 2012

Thank you Krystyna for bringing up Christian Bale - he was down to about 110-120 pounds, which is FRIGHTFULLY thin for a man of his build. if he had even been just regularly thin for that role, it would have been entirely wrong for the movie. As for Anne Hathaway, she is losing weight for DEATH SCENES. I believe her character died of starvation and illness, so losing a fair amount of weight is appropriate for the part.

Why don't we get soooo bent out of shape when men bulk up ridiculously huge muscles to look like comic book (excuse me) graphic novel characters. talk about unrealistic! Not as dangerous, although I think working out for 6 grueling hours a day is punishment of a different type to your body.

A note on Katniss and book vs movie Hunger Games: I loved it. I loved her, I love the book, I thought the movie was Fantastic. Yes the whole district was pretty much starving, but Katniss hunted, foraged and traded for better food and herbs for her mother to sell/use as a healer, earning more money. Jennifer lawrence, thank heavens is not a toothppick - otherwise, she couldn't have managed a bow and arrow as she does in the books. The movie is "Hollywoodized" because of the horrific subject matter, and I was quite pleased that they got the message across about the total detachment of the Capitol residents to the rest of the country.

9:05AM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

despicable

3:33PM PDT on Apr 4, 2012

Thanks for the article. I was a bit surprised that she was not as thin as I thought she was supposed to be, since in the book they were 'starving'. But because she hunts and all, I think it was ok that she wasn't super skinny. In the end, her weight and size didn't change anything for me. She was still the super heroine in the movie :)

7:24AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

I'd assumed David L's post was satirical. Of course there is a fine line between satire and trolling.

5:32AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

Thanks for the article.

5:24AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

David L-what a baseless rant. Did you even google Manohla Dargis before you insulted her? She's written books (how many have you?) and used to work for the LA Times. And hoe do you know that she's "simply one bitter and hate-filled ignorant and uneducated man-hating dyke on a third rate New York paper trying to make a name for herself by writing a radical and contrary piece of pretend journalism"? Sounds more like you're the bitter, uneducated and JEALOUS individual. And the NY TImes is a third rate paper? I'd love to know what you consider to be a first rate paper.No one needs you're hate here, but then you probably don't have any friends with that lovely attitude so this is the only way for you to interact with people.


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