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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Serena (2015)


Pretty much a remake of Silver Linings Playbook. Except not everybody’s supposed to be nuts.

In Depression-era North Carolina, timber baron George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) is dealing with most problems people have to deal with when they run any sort of business. Dealing with panthers and such in the wilderness that surrounds him and his workers, George realizes that he needs to figure something out in his life to give it more meaning. Which is why when he meets the young, beautiful and wistful Serena (Jennifer Lawrence), he instantly falls head-over-heels. Soon, they have sex, get married, and decide that it’s time to start a family. Problem is, Serena starts to take her husband’s business a little too seriously and get in the way of matters that don’t concern her. However, George loves Serena and doesn’t want to upset her, so when he impregnates her, he feels like they’re going to be getting back on-track into that happy, lovely couple they once were. Once again though, troubles arise when Serena suddenly finds out that she cannot bear children, which leads to horrifying, disastrous results that finds almost everyone involved with the Pemberton clan acting out in insane ways.

Serena1

Uh oh. One bad movie and B-Coops is making someone pay!

Oh, gosh. What went wrong? Sure, I’ve heard about Serena for a long while now, from when it was completed and then put on the shelf for nearly two years, to when it premiered at some festivals last year to ultimately disastrous reviews, but man, I sure as hell didn’t expect it to be this bad.

Seriously.

And while it’s hard for me to not just start and end this review by simply stating it’s crappy, there’s something that needs to be said here about movies that seem like they’d be alright, all because of who is involved with them. When you see names like “Bradley Cooper” and “Jennifer Lawrence”, you’d automatically expect that whatever they were involved with, to be something worth checking out, regardless of what it’s about. Heck, if you put J-Law and B-Coops in a room and film them for an-hour-and-a-half, chances are, we’re all going to watch it. They’ve made smart enough choices in the past to give us the idea that they know what they’re doing with their careers, and they’re more than talented enough to remind us why they get as much material thrown their way as they do.

But somehow, Serena just is not the kind of movie where all of this seems clear. Cooper and Lawrence seem like they are trying here with what’s given to them, but what’s given to them is absolute garbage and so far from any help, that even their more than reliable skills as actors can’t save the day. Even Susanne Bier, a solid director when she’s given enough inspiration, seems like she has no idea what to make of this tale, or even seem like she gives a damn. Then again, this could be just that the material is so thin and poorly-done, that even she couldn’t help it from being something better.

Either way, Serena is a mess. There’s no two ways of getting around it. Some of that is Bier’s fault, other times, it’s Cooper, Lawrence and the rest of the cast, but overall, it’s a group effort that seemed doomed from the beginning; regardless of how much effort may have been put into it.

Or in this case, I guess none.

See, what’s odd about Cooper and Lawrence here, is that while they’re usually spectacular in all else that they do, here, they seem incredibly awkward. Even they’re chemistry together that’s blossomed so well in the past seems like an after-thought in a movie that wants to have you believe in these two as long, lost loves who, after five seconds of meeting one another and boning, instantly fall in love and get married. It feels rushed and put-on, and to be honest, neither one’s performances help matters.

Somehow, female J-Law on a white horse isn't as awesome as it sounds.

Somehow, female J-Law on a white horse isn’t as awesome as it sounds.

Cooper has some odd Southern-twang in his voice that makes everything that comes out of his mouth, indecipherable, whereas with Lawrence, I don’t even know what to say. Her character is supposed to be this enchanting, yet demanding piece of work that seems to always get her way, no matter what; and when she doesn’t, it’s literally the end of the world for her, as well as all those surrounding her. Whereas Lawrence’s high-strung charm has worked for her in the past, because this character is so poorly-written and crazy, it all comes off as over-the-top and the decisions her character makes by the tail-end of this movie, are downright laughable. It makes you feel bad enough for Lawrence, until you realize that the gal already has an Oscar to her name and probably plenty more to come.

So any bit of sadness goes away once reality strikes.

And honestly, it’s hard to really think that this movie could have been good in some universe; it’s just not that type of movie. A part of me wants to feel that, even before Silver Linings hit the big screen and made both of these acts downright superstars, that Lawrence and Cooper took it, without knowing one another, and saw what could happen next. Maybe they got some nice pay out of their ordeal, or maybe they didn’t, but either way, this will slide right by them. They’ll go on to make bigger, way better movies (probably with David O. Russell) and seem to forget that this movie ever existed and eventually, will make it a blip in their memories.

The only ones who will remember are us, the normal, everyday citizens who will still be pondering that deadly question:

Just what the hell happened here?

Consensus: Sometimes, it doesn’t matter who’s involved, if you’re project is bad, it’ll probably stay that way. And that is exactly what happens to the poorly-written, terribly-acted, and so-bad-its-hilarious piece that is Serena; a movie you’ve heard is terrible and guess what? It is!

2 / 10 

"Go back to sleep, baby. It was all just a dream. A horrendous, terrifying, and downright disturbing dream."

“Go back to sleep, baby. It was all just a dream. A horrendous, terrifying, and downright disturbing dream.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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9 responses to “Serena (2015)

  1. dullwood68 April 5, 2015 at 5:58 am

    Hi Dan – Good review. I saw this last year at the London Film Festival and couldn’t believe it had been included. Whatever you do, don’t see it a second time – it’s even worse!

  2. Brittani April 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Nice review! I’ve been curious about this film for awhile, and I’ll probably see it. But after reading this, I’m setting my expectations at “rock bottom.”

  3. billwhite1951 April 5, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    silver linings playbook had a good script and excellent supporting actors. this has nothing, and i walked out after half an hour.

  4. Norbert Haupt April 5, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Thanks for saving me the trouble.

  5. J. April 5, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Oooft. I was thinking “it can’t be that bad”. But it does indeed appear to be that bad.

  6. Sherise April 5, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Too bad. The book is pretty good, not great though. I can see how it would be extremely hard to adapt. And it doesn’t help that the main character is a total bitch with no redeeming qualities. Jennifer just isn’t versatile enough to play such an unlikeable character. I remember way back when that Darren Aronofsky and Angelina Jolie were in talks to do Serena. I think they might have been able to pull it off, but still, it’s a really tricky story.

  7. pittsburghmoviegirl April 6, 2015 at 1:31 am

    Completely agree with your review. Awful. 2 out of 10 may even be generous. I couldn’t tell if the plot holes were already there or due to editing. I think B Coop was supposed to be from Boston, regardless, he could not hold his accent. And then there was the panther…..

  8. Dude the cleaner April 6, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Nice review. I didn’t waist my time with that one the critics hated it with a passion. It lasted a 2 to 3 weeks in the theater in my country. BMW (Big money wasted)

  9. Kim @ Tranquil Dreams April 17, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Great review! Serena was such garbage. Haha! I remember writing that review and just hating it. I got it for free advanced screening and still I couldn’t be really forgiving for it. I thought about seeking out the novel and maybe Serena’s character is better (which I didn’t) so I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and say, maybe some novels aren’t made to be adapted into movies. Thats all it is 😉

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