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Serena – 25/10/2014 @ The Watershed, Bristol.

November 26, 2014

Susanne Bier has gained a lot of critical and mainstream success, especially with ‘In a Better World’ which won the Oscar for Best International Film. Her first film set in USA stars Hollywoods hottest stars, and she didn’t even know it yet as it was shot before ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. For some reason, even with a major star billing like Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, the film still did not gain much commercial success. I think it was because it was a forgettable, bland and more of a difficult watch than many would think.

Bradley Cooper plays George Pemberton, owner of a once successful timber business. Due to some dodgy dealings and the depression, things are going wrong for George. He meets the enigmatic and sultry Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) who he instantly falls in love with. When they get married, Serena becomes part of the timber business. It turns out she can do everything better than George can and she helps him ward off threats from people within the business and improves things in general. When it becomes apparent that Serena cannot have children, things take a darker turn, revealing Serena’s more sinister and obsessive side as she becomes obsessed with George’s son from a previous relationship.

While the performances are decent, especially the usual strong performance from Jennifer Lawrence, the film is still very bland and rather dull and depressing. It does take on interesting themes like masculinity, love and obsession with a Greek tragedy element to it, but it all reveals itself ever so slowly. Many of the characters are not very interesting. The unrecognisable Rhys Ifans plays a weird, dark character who believes in some strange kind of destiny which justifies killing innocent people. Toby Jones does make a good Sheriff though, and we could have seen more of him. Unfortunately this is a slight miss-step from Susanne Bier, but I’m sure there are a few good films left from her.

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