Somewhere in between the Oscar guzzlers that were Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper worked together on a film that has become known for its delays. Becoming entangled in the busy schedules of its two leads, post production ate up a fair amount of the 18 months that it took to shoot, edit and complete. After much anticipation, Susanne Bier’s Serena arrives in a comfortable position in a year where neither lead have their eye on big awards.
In Depression-era North Carolina, a timber merchant’s empire becomes entangled in money worries upon the arrival of his assertive new wife.
As expected, the already cemented chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence is the strongest component in Serena’s rather weak structure. Lawrence’s caustic emotional range is totally beguiling, even when verging on ridiculous at the fault of its adapted script (Christopher Kyle, Alexander). Moments of the film have true emotional stronghold, but is brought plummeting back down thanks to some clichéd supporting characters and some truly ridiculous dialogue. Thankfully, the lustrous cinematography crafted by Morten Søborg sets Lawrence’s ghost like skin against the emerald trees of the Czech Republic with conviction. A commendable effort to make mainland Europe resemble depression-era America.
Serena’s aesthetic pleasures and strong performers are enough to make it a watchable, if conventional period piece.