Serena is stinky bad. The kind of film that smells for days. I can smell it in my inbox right now, burning a hole in my Gmail trash folder. The film wastes a lot of premium talent and stinks of something left out since 2012 to dry out and die. Predictable, depressing and worst of all, a complete bore. By the time it slogs to its inevitably sad finish, the face of your watch will be tired of seeing your eyes. Director Susanne Bier blamed a lack of proper dubbing for Jennifer Lawrence for the film’s delay to theaters. Wrong. Next time, try dubbing in a better story and a pace that doesn’t make the actors resemble stuck bodies trudging through quicksand.
There were warning signs. The film was shot in 2012 after Lawrence and co-star Bradley Cooper made Silver Linings Playbook. The magic they created in that Oscar nominated gem is nowhere to be found here because the people they are supposedly playing resemble cardboard boxes. Hollow, bland and not interesting at all. Their characters first encounter is on horseback, where Cooper’s George Pemberton tells Lawrence’s Serena Shaw that they should be married. Your audience deserves a better film next time. A hop, skip and a jump later, the two are married, working together in George’s timber business and the road to ruin begins. Deceit, betrayal, some sex, and murder follow. It’s all pretty cut and dry.
Serena is a beautiful film to look at, but that doesn’t make for a quality film. This isn’t a painting or a sunset. Those things can be admired and then easily pushed aside for something greater. This film doesn’t let you get away. There is no escape here. Bad films usually carry a certain guilty pleasure or the actors know it and try to wink at the audience and have some fun. Here, Lawrence and Cooper(along with every other cast member) look miserable as shit and it drowns the film.
Here’s what I think happened. Lawrence and Cooper had a lot of fun shooting Silver Linings, so the first chance they got to work together was this and they jumped on it. Next time, choose a better film, kids. These are two of my favorite young actors and along with Bier, dropped a bomb on us here. Lawrence owns an Oscar and three total Academy Award nominations. Cooper has two Oscar nominations himself. Bier won an Oscar for 2011’s In A Better World. Talk about false advertising.
Serena isn’t deserving of your time, money or memory. Like that trip to Vegas, forget it ever happened.