Serena

"Good"

Serena Review


Gorgeously shot, this period drama has a terrific setting and vivid characters, but is edited together in a jarring way that distances the audience from the situations. As the story progresses, the film also shifts strangely from a riveting exploration of a power couple with a pioneering spirit to a more melodramatic thriller about corruption and murder. It's consistently engaging thanks to the power of the cast, but it should have also been darkly moving as well.

The story is set in the late 1920s, as lumber baron George (Bradley Cooper) struggles under the economic pressures of the impending Great Depression. Then he meets Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) and it's love at first sight. A feisty, outspoken woman with a background in logging, she immediately ruffles feathers in George's camp by giving out advice that's actually helpful. George's two righthand men, accountant Buchanan (David Dencik) and foreman Campbell (Sean Harris), both quietly wonder if this woman is going to mess up their all-male world of underhanded bribes and physical danger. But she develops a rapport with George's hunting tracker Galloway (Rhys Ifans). Meanwhile, the local sheriff (Toby Jones) is trying to get George's land declared protected national parkland.

Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier (In a Better World) gives the film a grand scale with expansive mountain landscapes and a sweeping romantic tone. The Western-style bustle of the logging camp is lively and authentic, as is the continual threat of death or dismemberment on the job. Against this, Cooper and Lawrence have terrific chemistry both with each other and the characters around them, sharply portrayed by strong actors who know how to invest plenty of attitude into even a small role.

In the first half of the movie, all of this comes together as a gripping tale of mavericks pushing the boundaries of civilisation. Then something happens, and the story becomes bogged down in conspiracies, violence and dangerous betrayal. It's not like these elements come out of nowhere: this is a remote location in desperate times, after all. And Bier continually cuts back to soft-focus scenes of George and Serena in bed for no real reason other than to remind us that they're hot for each other.

All of this means that the film gradually slips out of control, changing focus to the least interesting elements of the plot, which require increasingly silly action even as things get unbearably grim. It's still watchable, and in the actors' faces it has some emotional power, but it also feels like a movie that was tampered with just a bit too much to please the widest possible audience. Which leaves it unable to fully satisfy anyone.

Rich Cline

Click here to watch the trailer for Serena


 

 



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 26th February 2015

Production compaines: 2929 Productions, Nick Wechsler Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Paula Mae Schwartz, Steve Schwartz, ,

Starring: as Serena Pemberton, as George Pemberton, as Galloway, as Sheriff McDowell, as Lowenstein, as Campbell, as Vaughn, as Rachel, as Agatha, as Buchanan, Ned Dennehy as Ledbetter, as Banker in Boston, Mark O'Neal as Lumberjack, Jim High as Wood Cutter, Bodil Jørgensen as Mrs. Sloan, Michael Ryan as Coldfield

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