LFF REVIEW: Serena

Serena-2014

A movie is a tangled mass of hundreds of variables. Even those that seem like a sure bet- acclaimed source material, tried-and-tested pairing of A-list actors, Oscar-winning director- can end up being an utter disappointment. In the curious case of Serena, a film riddled with problems, signs of trouble arose when it appeared that no distributor was willing to touch it. Production on Serena finished in 2012; yet it limped along for nearly two years, unseen, before finally clawing its way into the London Film Festival. This is what sparked my curiosity- how could a period drama, once tipped for awards-season success, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper- not be snapped up right away? What could have gone so horribly wrong?

The interesting thing to note with Serena is that it’s not a complete disaster- it has its problems, sure, but I still found it to be, at least for some of that bloated runtime, an engaging romantic drama. Lawrence’s titular performance, while not her best work, is still convincing, if slightly patchy. It is Cooper who turns in wooden, uncharacteristically lazy work. The pair still have the chemistry that worked so well in Silver Linings Playlist, but some of that sharpness has been lost along the way.

It is hard to like, or even pity, any of the characters we meet in Serena’s depression-era logging camp. Serena herself is complex, outspoken, charismatic- your typical Jennifer Lawrence character reincarnated into the early 1930s. She is an orphan, after losing her entire family in a terrible accident. She is cool, with her bleached tresses and icy gaze, and Cooper’s George Pemberton tells her that he wants to marry her on their first meeting. This film tries so hard to make Serena intriguing that ultimately the audience loses all interest, or in the case of the audience at LFF, burst into laughter. That’s right, some moments in Serena are so unintentionally ridiculous that the audience, on several occasions, couldn’t help but laugh.

The film’s frequent use of ham-fisted metaphors is another problem to attribute to the script. Serena is likened to a white horse, then an eagle. Then a wildcat. Serena exhausts itself by trying to be profound when all it really needed was to find a rhythm. The editing and the script are disjointed, rushed in places, stretched out in others. Serena is a film that cannot decide what it wants to be. In parts, I felt truly gripped by Serena. Lawrence was at least partially captivating, and the plot, although a slow burn, was periodically thrilling. Here lies Serena’s fatal problem- with so many promising variables, it is not enough to be only periodically thrilling, and frequently exasperating. Serena is as inconsistent as they come.

Image

Michael Fassbender as MACBETH

Michael Fassbender as MACBETH

Here’s a brand-new poster of man of the minute Michael Fassbender as Macbeth! My huge crush on him aside, I think this is pretty much perfect casting. Fassbender has given us a string of solid performances since his film debut in 2007 and he’s definitely improving with age, as proven by his electrifying turn in 12 Years a Slave. Expect a similar level of mastery here.

Video

X-MEN: Days of Future Past – Final Trailer!

Well, here it is: the last trailer for X-Men: DoFP. This movie is going to be huge.

Starring an impressive ensemble cast including Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman, Sir Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, X-Men: DoFP rejoins the cast of the original X-Men series with the stars of X-Men: First Class for the first time.

I was originally skeptical about this because First Class was such a breath of fresh air. McAvoy and Fassbender both did such a fantastic job with the characters of Xavier and Magneto that I would’ve liked to see their take on them carry on for good. I think it’s about time X-Men was properly rebooted. That’s what First Class should have been for the series- a new start. Stewart and McKellan are without a doubt fantastic in their roles, but a new X-Men series looked so promising.

However, I have since been converted. Although I stand firm that First Class would have been a fantastic way to reboot the series from scratch, Days of Future Past looks interesting because of its huge scope- mainly due to its expansive range of characters. However, my main concern is that this may once again become X-Men: The Wolverine Show. McAvoy and Fassbender have great chemistry together and Fassbender was without a doubt the best thing about First Class- Young Xavier and Magneto should still take centre stage.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is out on the 23rd May in the US and the 22nd May here in the UK.