Wednesday, April 1, 2015

[Review] Serena

Directed by Susanne Bier, Serena was once an Oscar hopeful, starring the terrific duo of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who impressed us in Silver Linings Playbook. But the film barely made it into the theaters. And this led a lot of people to ask "What went wrong?" Well, the answer to that is: a lot of things. 

Set in the smoky Mountains, the year is 1929 and Pemberton (Cooper) is a generic woodworker. One day, he sees Serena (Lawrence) riding on a horse and they suddenly get married. It gets to be about 25 minutes into the film and it feels as if nothing has really happened, but the two eventually start a timber empire. Their industry builds, while their marriage crumbles, but we don't really care. It's a small-town business endeavor and a soapy relationship drama that we have no investments in.

The film comes across as a Hallmark movie. Everything is so flat and forced, and there are a couple of dreadful montages backed by cheesy and melodramatic music. What we have here is two great actors fumbling with a bad script. The dialogue doesn't really ring as convincing, making for piles of stilted and awkward lines. It's essentially two people doing bad impressions of a certain period that they aren't familiar with at all. There's no character development or even any emotion, and a film as monotone and unengaging as this desperately needs it. The whole thing just drags and drags, The costume details are nice, and the picture is fairly well shot, but that's probably the way it should be.

The story in Serena is full of significant mistakes, accidents, bad decisions, and falling clunkers--and you can't help but think it all becomes a wooden reflection of the film itself.


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