25 February 2015 | ArchonCinemaReviews
I laughed and I cried - becauce I watched the darn thing!
If a film has Academy Award nominated actors, is based off a New York Times bestseller, it can still be a crap movie. We present to you: Serena.
Serena is a bunch of melodramatic nonsense masked as a worthy Hollywood feature film – when in reality it is just a bigger budgeted soap opera set in a historical time period.
George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) is trying to build a timber empire in North Carolina in 1929. While in the Northeast he meets a captivating woman named Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) and marries her. Together, the newly married couple return to North Carolina and pursue the venture together, Serena being the ever proficient business partner. Their saga and dramatics for success is the basis of the narrative within this film.
Anyone who has read the novel Serena by Ron Rash should be deeply disappointed by the film adaptation by screenwriter Christopher Kyle and director Susanne Bier. I'm disappointed and all I did was read the summary of the novel after watching the film, and all I can say is "woof, Cliffnotes, eat your heart out." Serena is a tragedy of editing, direction, screen writing, and acting all with a pretty paint job to delude viewers into thinking the drama is adequate.
With so much wrong in the film it is hard to differentiate whose shoulders must bear the brunt of the blame. Surely the starting point for the film is the script, and Kyle's is devoid of suspense, tension and drama. The dialogue does nothing to progress the plot in a feasible manner so director Susanne Bier must, like a magician, attempt to cultivate it from thin air. Not to say her attempt is admirable either, the gritty drama about greed set in the dense forest of North Carolina has no mood, no vision and is plainly shot with a vividity that exacerbates Serena's lifelessness.
Speaking of lifeless, moving on to the lead performers of this film: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Neither both to develop their characters in any fashion. Both Cooper and Lawrence are hollow mannequins going through the motions – no greed, no hate, no love, no passion, no motivation, no flaws, no self, no soul. Admittedly, they are severely miscast for their roles but the level at which they falter is startling.
The only entertainment received from watching Serena is from laughing at this allegedly dramatic film that fails to engage its viewer. Serena is uninspired and dreadfully cliché – watch out for some hilariously poor sex scenes and side-splitting 'emotional breakdowns'. Serena is so poorly done, from all angles, its a marvel the film even managed an internet release in the States.
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