Jennifer Lawrence Photo Bomb Foretells Greatness
has fast outgrown quiet roles
The height of the Golden Globes, not that I watched them, was Jennifer Lawrence's deathless photo bomb of Taylor Swift. Swift had it coming. A few years back on SNL Swift did an expert parody of Kristen Stewart chewing on her lips in Twilight. It was so mean that Stewart immediately stopped chewing them while she still had some lips left.
Anyway, Swift is dimpling prettily in front of Ryan Seacrest, who was as usual gushing oleaginous compliments. Seven yards away, Lawrence is seen, thunderstruck, making a face as if she'd suddenly seen her mortal enemy crashing her birthday party. The actual Lawrence quote, according to EW: "I was going to come in and push you down the stairs. I was like, 'She'll crack up. She would really love that.'"
J. Law is dead certain to win for Best Supporting Actress, and she deserves to feel her oats. But watching her was personally funny because I'd interviewed her in 2010 when Winter's Bone came out. Interview sessions, particularly for a small movie that needs the push, are brutal for a young actor. It's unlikely you'll come up with something they haven't heard before. I heard Simon Pegg once gave a really original questioner a $20 bill as a reward. I did not get that $20.
Somehow it was decided that director Debra Grabnik and Lawrence would be interviewed as a team, which is highly unusual. Even the nicest actors would agree that Brando was right: "An actor is someone who, if you ain't talking about them, they ain't listening." The truth was that I didn't have a lot of questions for Lawrence. Her role in Winter's Bone is star-making, and that film is seriously recommended to Breaking Bad fans. Having limited space I just gave up and blurbed like anyone else: "this is one of the most remarkable performances of the year."
Lawrence's Ree Dolly was a clear, steel-true character, a heroine of few words. So I only had little questions regarding Lawrence's favorite scenes, (she said stunts were tough for her) and her personal origins. Lawrence was from Louisville, so she knew the Missouri terrain, but the locations were sometimes deep in the country: "At first you want to just stand back and observe, I watched for a long time and waited to integrate myself a little bit. Everybody was nice and welcoming."
It's my fault I didn't get more, but it's cop logic that explains why I didn't: separate the perps and you get a better idea of what went on. If you get a director and an actor together, the director will ultimately do more talking: the person in charge will have the last word on what exactly went down, while the actor kind of sits there and waits for a question.
I suspect the publicists brought Grabnik and Lawrence as a team to protect J. Law's youthful shyness and innocence. Which made it slightly bemusing for me to later see her on Letterman talking about butt plugs.
I didn't recognize Lawrence as a Shirley MacLaine-caliber firecracker, though other stars come to mind when watching Lawrence act—Shelley Winters when she was playing young, crazy and doomed parts, before she grew bravado and girth and started naming names. There's something in Lawrence of the sweet-faced, dreamy, illogical '70s sprite: Barbara Harris in Hitchcock's Family Plot.
No one will inherit Nostradamus' turban for noting that Lawrence's fierceness and spirit will transcend the role of "Kindness Everteen" (as J. Hoberman put it)—people will get sick of the Hunger Games long before they get sick of her. Let's herald the liberation of Lawrence through the David O. Russell films. Russell encouraging her to go lewd, "It was HOT," she growled reminiscing about a sexual experience in Silver Lining Playbook. And now the mad housewife in American Hustle, a one-woman bipolar vortex, as when she laid that big Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd kiss on Amy Adams. Russell was ingenious to toss the script and just let Lawrence spin her remarkable wheels.
R; 121 min.