Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones, David Dencik
Directed By: Susanne Bier
Sometimes I have a hard time understanding what major stars see in scripts. More specifically, what did Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence like about the script to Serena? Even if the film was poorly directed, I’d argue the script lacks finesse, and for Lawrence, it lacks the strong female lead she’s used to playing. Don’t confuse “gun toting” with strong. And definitely don’t assume that because a film is directed by a female filmmaker that the female lead will be strong. That is not always the case.
In Serena, Lawrence plays the titular character, a strong willed girl who immediately marries Mr. Pemberton (Cooper), a logging magnate who woos her with the romantic introduction “We should get married.” Apparently, they do. Immediately. We don’t have to see the romance blossom or anything. We’re “saved” that. I suppose it wasn’t important to the story, despite the fact that we see Cooper/Lawrence fuck at least three times during the film. Usually, once is enough. Three times? Come on now.
The loose plot of the film involves Cooper trying to keep his logging camp afloat in depression era times when the President is looking to make a National Park in his area. There’s also some weird subplot where he just really needs to kill a panther, and has a hunting guide (Ifans) to help him. He also fathered a child before meeting Serena, and the mother and child linger in the shadows. There’s a town sheriff (Jones) who is trying his best to screw over Cooper and save the trees.
Cooper’s accent comes and goes. Lawrence has had much better, stronger roles. This is the kind of film that can turn rising stars into falling stars. Luckily, no one really saw this film, and it got buried. It’s not completely awful, but it’s really close. It’s beneath the talent involved, and the script isn’t strong enough. It’s a pretty film to look at, and Lawrence makes the most out of her role, but it can’t save the film. Bradley Cooper is using up all the goodwill he built up with American Sniper just between this film and Aloha.
Unless you’re a die hard Jennifer Lawrence film, skip it. And if you are a die hard fan, you’re going to be disappointed. Apparently it was a book. Was the book this dull?
FINAL GRADE: C-