Serena is a sweeping, tragic love story starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Based on the book by Ron Rash and directed by Susanne Bier.
Set in the mountains of North Carolina in 1929, the film follows the trials and troubles of George and Serena Pemberton’s timber business and marriage. Already in-debt to the banks, and using land in Brazil as collateral, George meets practical and beautiful Serena – who after a swift courtship, he marries whilst in town on business. Returning to the mountains together however, George is greeted at the railway station by a girl who works for him, now pregnant with his child. This doesn’t bother the newly-weds to much though, as they focus their ambitions on the business and having a family of their own. However, their plans are soon threatened by people determined to turn the forest into a national park. So begins a slow unravelling of betrayal and jealously as the Pemberton’s fight for their forest and George’s illegitimate child causes a wedge between them.
I found this film to be alright, though somewhat melodramatic. The wife’s tragic backstory, her jealously, a friend’s betrayal, a murder, the couple going to extremes to protect their business – all these elements felt rather familiar. I also wasn’t keen on a montage of their courtship and marriage in the early part of the movie. The shots faded in and out like a trailer, a style that was wasn’t used again, and seemed to be random. I felt that the editor might as well have excluded this as it would have made as much sense if we’d just gone from George proposing marriage to them arriving at the timber train station.
Nonetheless I did think the acting in it was excellent, with a particularly superb and subtle performance from Rhys Ifans as the hunter Galloway, and fine emotional acting from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.
The cast all give great performances, and the production is good quality. The story is somewhat melodramatic, but engaging enough to keep you watching until the end.
Serena is out on DVD on 23 February.