The extreme saccharine romanticism of Pemberton’s (Cooper) first meeting with Serena (Lawrence) may cause some to wish the film had remained in the can another two years, yet brutal dramatisation of the dangers of logging and a story as melodramatic as they come proves a relentlessly entertaining combination.
Serena is aesthetically impressive, with beautiful scenic vistas and whiplash-fast accidents shot equally well.
Lawrence slinks around easily enough before showcasing the full extent of her chops once Serena’s claws come out, and Ifans perfectly captures the shadowy menace of ex-con Galloway, though his character arc falls far short of convincing.
Serena packs in as many shock-jolt moments as the average horror movie, though these have above average impact. A clichéd and ably-acted narrative of corrupt business is superseded by heavy-handed symbolism of hunting, sexual jealousy, and infertility as the hole-ridden plot marches inexorably towards, and beyond, the ridiculous.
CAST: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Toby Jones, Rhys Ifans, Sean Harris
DIRECTOR: Susanne Bier
WRITERS: Christopher Kyle (screenplay) and Ron Rash (novel)
SYNOPSIS: In depression-era Carolina life is complicated for George Pemberton (Cooper), the owner of a logging company, when he marries a fiercely unconventional woman (Lawrence).