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Review: Serena

Serena
03.25.2015
5 10

PLOT: A timber baron (Bradley Cooper) marries Serena (Jennifer Lawrence), a strong-willed, enigmatic young woman who proves to be more than his match, and helps him turn his depression era business into an empire.

REVIEW: SERENA is one of the more mysterious films to come out in the last few years. Shot after SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, but before the movie went into release, SERENA is the Bradley Cooper-Jennifer Lawrence collaboration that came before last year's AMERICAN HUSTLE. One wonders why – with both stars white-hot right now – SERENA sat on the shelf for so long, having been wrapped almost two years ago. Interestingly, while the movie only comes out this spring (via Magnolia Pictures) in the US, the movie is getting a wide-commercial release in Canada this weekend.

Having finally seen the finished product, it's somewhat clear why SERENA is getting such a lukewarm release. Coming from director Susanne Bier, SERENA is a fairly opulent production boasting high production values and absolutely gorgeous visuals courtesy of Bier's regular DP Morten Soborg. This is no low-budget art film. It's clear this was intended to be commercial. That seems unlikely now with the film carrying a tarnished reputation and bad reviews. While not quite as bad as you'd think given that it's sat on the shelf for two years, SERENA pales considerably to the two movies Lawrence-Cooper have made with David O. Russell.

Sadly, a lot SERENA's problems come down to Jennifer Lawrence's performance. This is a complicated part and Lawrence, being so young, has grown leaps and bounds as an actress in the last two years. She was always good, but having been filmed two years ago SERENA seems like it was beyond her range. In the first half of the film she's fine, but her performance is badly compromised by the second half, where her character is supposed to become unhinged. By the third act she's called upon to do things as an actress that she had never done before, and Bier, working is English seems like a more unsteady hand than she needed.

Bier's work in Denmark is superb. But her American movies haven't been of the same calibre (although THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE is underrated). Visually, she's spot on, but the performances seem slightly off. Lawrence isn't the only one. Rhys Ifans, who starts off great, winds up delivering a really unconventional performance, and he goes a little over the top.

Bradley Cooper actually fares better than anyone, and viewers may be surprised how much of his the movie this winds up being despite Lawrence playing the title role. His performance seems really solid here, but to be fair to the others his part is a lot simpler and conventional than what the others are asked to do.

All in all though, SERENA is still reasonably entertaining, although this is mostly for camp value. The melodrama is ratcheted up to an eleven, with Cooper's right hand man, played by David Dencik, having an unrequited crush on him. Just in case it's not clear enough that he's gay, Bier makes him wear outrageous ascots and smoke gold-banded cigarettes, while gazing lovingly at the strapping Cooper. The ending also gets a little crazy, wit it suddenly becoming a slasher/action movie and then having the most melodramatic, cornball ending you can imagine. It's a mess.

Still, SERENA has entertainment value, just not likely in the way the filmmakers hoped. It's a fun film, but I don't know that I'd say it's a good one. If anything, it's an interesting look at how far Lawrence has come as a performer in just a few short years.

Source: JoBlo.com

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8:12AM on 03/25/2015

This is the problem with JLaw I find

This. American Hustle. Silver Linings etc

They keep trying to sell us Jlaw who at the time 19-20, as an early to mid 30s woman. Its like trying to sell Justin Bieber as a man in his thirties. Not believable at all
This. American Hustle. Silver Linings etc

They keep trying to sell us Jlaw who at the time 19-20, as an early to mid 30s woman. Its like trying to sell Justin Bieber as a man in his thirties. Not believable at all
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9:28AM on 03/25/2015
To be fair, it sounds like she could have pulled it off with a better director.
To be fair, it sounds like she could have pulled it off with a better director.
2:32AM on 03/25/2015
Saw the film and it was pretty "meh". A 5/10 rating seems right. The characters are poorly written, and the editing and rhythm of the movie is all over the place. I liked the performances from Lawrence and Cooper. They're good, not great, but like I said, the writing certainly didn't help.

One thing about this review: how can the reviewer say that Lawrence has grown as an actress since this movie when her two most celebrated performances ("Winter's Bone" and "Silver Linings Playbook") were
Saw the film and it was pretty "meh". A 5/10 rating seems right. The characters are poorly written, and the editing and rhythm of the movie is all over the place. I liked the performances from Lawrence and Cooper. They're good, not great, but like I said, the writing certainly didn't help.

One thing about this review: how can the reviewer say that Lawrence has grown as an actress since this movie when her two most celebrated performances ("Winter's Bone" and "Silver Linings Playbook") were filmed before "Serena"? It just doesn't make any sense. The problem was with the script and the direction, not with her or Cooper.

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4:22AM on 03/25/2015
Bad sheep, don't think!


Bad sheep, don't think!


4:59AM on 12/02/2014

6.5 / 10 in my books

Released november 12, 2014 in France.
Good movie. The chemestry of the Cooper/Lawrence couple is good, the story is interesting (specialy the character played by J-Law) ; the supporting cast is strong enough to not be shadowed by the 2 big stars ; but what I loved the most was the ambience of the 30's depression-era mixed with the wilderness of North Carolina.
Not a great movie, but deserves some attention
Released november 12, 2014 in France.
Good movie. The chemestry of the Cooper/Lawrence couple is good, the story is interesting (specialy the character played by J-Law) ; the supporting cast is strong enough to not be shadowed by the 2 big stars ; but what I loved the most was the ambience of the 30's depression-era mixed with the wilderness of North Carolina.
Not a great movie, but deserves some attention
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1:24AM on 12/02/2014
Even though it's getting bad reviews, I'm still really looking forward to this. Cooper is one of my favorite actors and I will see anything the guy lends his craft towards. And his chemistry with Lawrence is great and that chemistry is probably the only worthwhile thing about seeing this film.
Even though it's getting bad reviews, I'm still really looking forward to this. Cooper is one of my favorite actors and I will see anything the guy lends his craft towards. And his chemistry with Lawrence is great and that chemistry is probably the only worthwhile thing about seeing this film.
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