A heterosexual male director making clear his (let’s say) warm feelings toward a female actor is far from unprecedented. But Russell’s eye for Lawrence is remarkable for the way it reflects public fascination with the star, far more so than any of the other filmmakers she’s worked with. (The Hunger Games movies, for example, are both respectful and respectable in that department—one area where the adaptations’ tastefulness serves them well.) In other words, while Russell’s gaze through the camera at Lawrence can land somewhere between awestruck and lascivious, he doesn’t feel alone in those thoughts. Entertainment journalists and aficionados fawn over her, particularly her penchant for off-the-cuff goofiness.
In her performances for Russell, Lawrence shows a knack for offhand comedy that bridges her signature Mystique/Katniss toughness and the goofier public personality that makes her a fun talk-show guest. Russell even toys with that insta-bestie media persona, intentionally or not, during Hustle’s aforementioned party scenes of Lawrence instantly winning over everyone she meets.