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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, May 06, 2016

Movie Review - Serena

Serena (2015)
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans, David Dencik, and Toby Jones
Directed by Susanne Bier
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

A bit of a countrified film noir, Serena is the tale of timber empire head George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) whose success in the 1929 Smoky Mountains has led to a rather prosperous community amongst his workers. Upon a visit to the more cultured big city, George meets Serena (Jennifer Lawrence), immediately falls for her, and marries her right away.  With her family having worked in timber, Serena steps up and begins to take charge which doesn't sit too well with some of the workers.  While George accepts and is actually quite pleased with his wife's demeanor and candor in his workplace, he also discovers that she has an awful jealous streak and that she may be a bit more conniving than he ever imagined.

Serena stars two big name celebrities, yet found itself sitting on the shelf for quite a while, finally getting a very limited release in early 2015.  That's oftentimes a death knell for films and while Serena isn't horrible, it's got a myriad of issues that is never quite succeeds in overcoming.  While Cooper and Lawrence are fine (and they actually have some nice moments individually), their chemistry is a little lacking, but there's part of me that wonders if that's the fault of the film's editing which is quite muddled.  There's a tendency for director Susanne Bier and her editor to linger on shots longer than is really necessary, creating an odd tone and timing throughout the piece.  In addition, the character of Serena herself is so quickly introduced and placed front and center that she fails to really resonate with the audience.  Lawrence attempts at giving a well-rounded performance, but the motivations of the character feel slight, forced, and disappointingly fleshed out.  By the time the film takes on the more noirish tone in its final act, Serena feels as if it hasn't earned that tone thanks to the way the editing and characters have played out prior.

There's no doubt that you could fare worse than Serena and I could understand the allure of wanting to watch it because of the film's two stars, but don't say I didn't warn you about the lackluster nature of the piece.

The RyMickey Rating:  C-

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