‘The Hunger Games’ Movie vs. ‘Winter’s Bone’: Does Jennifer Lawrence Play the Same Character?

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By M. Johanson | March 28, 2012 4:50 AM EST

"The Hunger Games" movie starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss broke box office records over the weekend, heralding the rise of a new star.

Chances are you didn't watch Jodie Foster's "The Beaver" or the underappreciated "Like Crazy." Maybe you saw her painted blue in "X-Men: First Class," but more likely than not, you've just been introduced to Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in "The Hunger Games."

Yet, the actress had her true breakthrough in another little-watched film that came out in 2010. That film is "Winter's Bone" and it bears a striking resemblance to this weekend's record-breaking hit.

Director Debra Granik has a way of turning budding actresses into Hollywood stars. 2004's "Down to the Bone" is widely credited with jumpstarting the career of then-unknown Vera Farmiga. The Sundance darling's "Winter's Bone" did the same for Jennifer Lawrence. She was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award and was showered with praise by critics across the nation.

Many have said Lawrence's role as Ree in "Winter's Bone" prepped her for her "Hunger Games" role - and it's not hard to see why.

Let's take a look at some of the comparisons between Katniss of "The Hunger Games" and Ree of "Winter's Bone":

The Setting:

Both movies take place in dirt poor mountainous regions of the United States. Located in the Appalachian Mountains, Katniss' District 12 specializes in coal mining and is one of the poorest and most ridiculed districts in the nation of Panem. Ree, meanwhile, lives in the hills of the Midwest. While it's a bit of a stretch to compare a post-apocalyptic world with the meth-infested Ozarks, both are desolate environments where people resort to illegal activities to survive (and gorge on the occasional rodent to get by).

Family Life:

Both films feature Lawrence as a young girl in her late teens who, without a father figure, must struggle to provide for and protect her family - family being nervous siblings and a useless mother in both cases. It's this domestic responsibility that initiates our hero's journey into the unknown. Both Ree and Katniss have had to fight since they were young girls to survive and it's their fierce determination that protects the family unit.

Hunters:

Both Rhee and Katniss are hunters that can skin an animal without batting an eye, though their tools are different. Katniss is a pro with a bow and arrow while Ree is disturbingly good with a rifle. Both attempt to pass these skills on to their younger siblings, though neither is very successful.

Mentors:

Every good hero needs a mentor, but for both Rhee and Katniss that means a cranky, unreliable older man. Ree must rely on her steely-eyed uncle Teardrop to navigate the dangerous underbelly of the Ozark's meth scene. Katniss is forced to take instructions from the perpetually drunk Haymitch who knows how to navigate the unpredictable arena of the Hunger Games.

The Cruel Journey:

Both movies are unashamedly violent in nature and portray a girl fighting against the odds to do right by her family. The journey is incredibly cruel in both cases. For Katniss, it's a fight for her life. For Ree, it's more of a riddled search for answers. Either way, both endure pain and hardship from a cruel and uncaring world. In both cases, the stakes are life or death, yet these selfless young women prevail in the end.

Did you notice any other comparisons between "The Hunger Games" and "Winter's Bone"? Share in the comments below.

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