Director: Susanne Bier
Writer: Christopher Kyle
Based on: Ron Rash‘s novel
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans, David Dencik, Charity Wakefield, Sam Reid, Toby Jones, Sean Harris, Blake Ritson, Christian McKay
Seen on: 04.01.2015 [cornholio suggested I add that info to my posts, let me know what you think.]
George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) has a successful timber business and things seem to work out perfectly when he meets Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) on a trip. They fall in love and get married quickly and when George brings Serena back home, she immediately gets involved in the business, into which she has some insight. But not everybody is so happy about the new alliance and the intensity of George’s and Serena’s relationship also proves difficult.
Serena starts off well enough but then it pretty much implodes, leaving me feeling like it didn’t actually know what story it wanted to tell in the first place.
The film is rather long but feels even longer, maybe also because it just didn’t know when to stop introducing new stuff and concentrate on the things it had already set-up. I can see it working extremely well as a character/relationship study, particularly since the introduction of George and Serena and how quickly they sink their respective fangs into each other was very well done.
That alone should have been enough to then tell the story of how this obsessive and possessive relationship plays out in that remote setting. Leave George’s worried partner, leave George’s illegitimate child that causes tension between the two of them, but leave out pretty much everything involving Rhys Ifans (not that I didn’t enjoy him in the film – I usually do – but his character’s part was just too much noise and distraction). In short, strip down the story to its bones and we might have ended up with a good film.
But Christopher Kyle and Susanne Bier wanted to have too much in the film, leaving everything superficial and reduced to shallow melodrama. Maybe these things work in the novel (I haven’t read it) but they just felt tacky here, letting large parts of the movie drag on and on, and culminating in an ending that had me rolling my eyes so hard that I was afraid they would twist out of my skull (I mean, really, Czechov’s moutain lion???).
So much could have been made with that cast and Bier is a decent director, so I don’t know what happened here. I just know that I was bored out of my mind while watching.