Here at the Gruntington Post, we watch the sucky movies, and warn you about them, so you don’t have to. In the case of the beautifully filmed Serena, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, which debuted early in 2015, one might be tempted to assume that it’s worth a couple hours. One might be wrong. There’s a reason why a studio sits on a movie starring two A-list actors for over two years before releasing it, and it has nothing to do with ‘scheduling’, which is the excuse the studio gave.
Set in a depression-era logging camp near Asheville, North Carolina during the time the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was being assembled, the film was shot in the achingly beautiful forests of the Czech Republic on one of the most skillfully constructed outdoor sets I’ve seen in a long time. The surroundings are utterly convincing – more so than the acting, which is not terrible. The visuals are worth a look, really.
The acting is not bad, although the decision to have Bradley Cooper use his eastern coastal accent was a terrible one. It comes across as identical to his well-known Christopher Walken impression, which is amusing, but ridiculous. At times you think you’re watching Christopher Walken courting Jennifer Lawrence, and that’s just disturbing. Lawrence handles the part of the disturbed and damaged beauty well, but she’s most convincing when she’s silently staring or having an emotional breakdown.
The real suckiness with Serena comes from the story, which is based on the book by Ron Rash, and possibly it’s execution by director Susanne Bier. Character development is poor and unconvincing, and the story is just too tragic to be satisfying in any way. It gets a 95% ranking on the “Everybody Dies” scale, and overall, gets 2 out of 5 grunts. It could work as a good date movie, as long as you both fall asleep by the mid-point. I don’t recommend waiting to find out what happens. Hint: Refer to the Everybody Dies Index mentioned above. Don’t go watch this movie thinking anybody but peripheral characters are going to survive and live happily ever after. You’ve been warned.