Director: Susanne Bier
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones
Duration: 149 minutes
Release: November 27
Verdict: 4/5 stars
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper’s latest coupling transports viewers to North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains in a tale of murder, deception, loss and insanity in depression-era America.
The film, directed by Danish film-maker Susanne Bier, wrapped in 2012, before Lawrence’s Oscar-winning turn in Silver Linings Playbook, but had been put on hold by distributors because of an extended post production.
Serena is a series of emotional highs and heartbreaking lows, with all of the protagonists meeting unfortunate fates in the movie’s rather unfulfilling ending.
Lawrence is without a doubt the star of Serena, with the depth of her performance making it hard to believe she was only 22 years old while filming.
Cooper plays George Pemberton, a rugged young entrepreneur who owns a troubled logging business in North Carolina’s stunning mountains.
After he meets the beautiful but “troubled” Serena Shaw at a horse-jumping event, the pair fall passionately in love, quickly marry, and move back to the beautiful but grim timber camp.
Serena is initially a strong character, with a logging background like Pemberton, and Pemberton commands his men to treat his new wife as his equal.
After a series of tragic events, including murder, betrayal and loss, Serena declines from a strong-willed businesswoman to a grieving and scorned woman, in a remarkable performance from Lawrence.
Cooper also delivers a strong performance as a loving but sad husband who is torn between his past and present, and loyalties.
Watching the couple’s marriage crumble beneath them, despite their best efforts, is devastating.
While Serena maintains a fever-pitch intensity throughout, the ending is disappointing and lets down the rest of the film.
A key moment that is supposed to be shocking and tragic is actually humorous and unbelievable.
Despite the unfulfilling ending, this is still one of this year’s best movies.
It’s worth seeing for a great story of tragedy, made even better by Lawrence and Cooper’s great performances and chemistry.