Ballad of songbirds and snakes: dystopia is never seeing Jennifer Lawrence again (***)

by archynewsy
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Absence is not a minor issue. Far from absent. Much of what disappears, far from simply disappearing, leaves around it a trail of languages, ways, myths and habits that rush to fill the gap; an emptiness that is sometimes experienced as problematic and, when necessary, with pain. In the absence of evidence, there are no culprits; If there is no body there is no crime or possibility of mourning; Neither justice nor equality is possible without fair resources and taxes, and, to put it more precisely, the artistic representation of the abyss is, in itself, the greatest and most recurrent of paradoxes. Or just contradiction. And now the question: Does it make sense to return to ‘The Hunger Games’ without Jennifer Lawrence’?

Answer: no.

After a long dystopian romance with the public that began in 2012 under the direction of Gary Ross and lasted for three more episodes until 2015, always under the direction of Francis Lawrence, the beginning has now arrived. That is to say, the origin of a saga whose main virtue (which is also its penance) has consisted and still consists of adapting to a plain, almost offensively simple language, all the more or less common places of the genre. Faithful to Suzanne Collins’ pastiche novel, The idea is once again to remix classics ranging from ‘Logan’s Escape a ‘1984’going by ‘Lord of the Flies’ o ‘Battle Royale’. And do it with an effective and properly affected grammar that in its own way manages to give social and political context to what in a saga like ‘Twilight‘ was all internal metaphor, the intestinal soil.

The return delivers and, at times, it would seem that it gets rid of many of the rhetorical vices of the last installments to offer an adventure both narratively and visually more solvent, less confusing, friendly and even spectacular. In fact, the starting point is much more attractive: instead of telling, again, the heroine’s exploits in any of her forms, the idea now is to stop at the emergence of the villain. And that, because of what is shady, cornered and slightly ribald, is already a merit. The rise of Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) from poverty to the highest peaks of evil has a lot of full-fledged meritocracy, of class resentment, of simple and opportunistic social adventures. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s somewhat similar. And that, no matter how we say it, adds up.

Another issue is the perennial commitmentadolescent‘, let’s call it that. Rachel Zegler is the one noted with her familiarity with singing to keep the soul of the saga intact. In the same way as Collins’ reference books, the film insists on translating into a futuristic, violent and convulsive setting that hormonally disturbed, emotionally tortured and familiarly insufferable state that defines the strange and sad period between childhood and what comes after. that no one knows for sure what it is. And despite her efforts and despite herself, she is precisely the one in charge of reminding us that something doesn’t add up, that something is missing. That something really is someone. Zegler is no worse than Lawrence, she just isn’t Lawrence. And that’s where everything breaks down: all the new actress achieves is only to not be the one who should be in her place. As opaque as it sounds.

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