"The Biggest Mystery Is Why Is This So Boring"
What You Need To Know:
Based on a novel, SERENA can’t decide whether it wants to be a mystery or a romance and ends up failing at both. It’s a rather boring movie, paced far too languidly to sustain long-term interest. Stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are out of their element in this disturbing period piece. SERENA has little uplifting or positive story elements to offer. There are themes about the dangers of obsession and greed, but they aren’t handled dramatically enough to satisfy the average moviegoer. SERENA also contains some strong sex scenes, so extreme caution is advised.
(PaPa, B, L, VVV, SS, NN, AA, D, M) Strong pagan worldview about obsession, greed and a lumber baron’s marriage during the Great Depression to a mysterious woman who slowly ruins his life with some moral elements; four obscenities; some strong and very strong intense and disturbing violence with some blood includes one man tricks another man into placing his hand on a tree and then cuts off his hand in quick but bloody fashion with an ax, men fight, and one has a straight razor, mechanical accident crushes a man in non-graphic fashion, while another man successfully stops a vehicle from running over him, man starts to strangle a woman in anger, man throws ax next to the head of another man to get him to move from resting during work, a couple discreetly bloody corpses are found, man jumped by surprise by a wild animal that kills him, arson fire burns down house, intense childbirth scene appears to end in a stillbirth; a scene of partially depicted fornication and two scenes of partially depicted marital relations, but the people are mostly clothed though woman is nearly topless in one scene; rear male nudity during one sex scene and upper male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking; and, greed, obsession, gossip, devious behavior, and implied kidnapping of a child, who is then cruelly kept away from his father through deceit.
SERENA is a tragic, violent drama set in 1929 rural America about how a lumber baron’s marriage to a mysterious woman slowly ruins his life. It has a strong pagan worldview with some moral elements, but it’s a mediocre movie with too much tragedy and nothing uplifting to offer.
The movie tells the story of George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper), a young lumber tycoon. George wants to clear-cut the forests of the Smoky Mountains in hopes of amassing a million-dollar fortune and moving to Brazil, where the wood is even finer and more plentiful. He sees a beautiful woman named Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) riding a horse at an event and is immediately smitten, even to the point of immediately asking her to a dance and then sleeping with her their first night together.
Although Serena’s described as a mysterious new arrival in the area, who had survived a fire that killed the rest of her family, George not only marries Serena but gives her great power in his company. He tells his men she has authoritative power. The other men scoff at her idea of importing a hawk to kill dangerous snakes in the area, but she proves them wrong when the bird proves successful at grabbing serpents. The men suddenly start to respect her.
However, there’s something strange about Serena. She engages in intense yet clothed sexual relations with George, using her feminine wiles to distract him from deeper problems. George is losing a major deal to cut a huge territory of trees, and Serena appears to lose a pregnancy due to a miscarriage. Then, George’s business rivals are found dead in a rather bloody fashion.
From there, the story only gets stranger. George comes to believe his child may still be alive. Then, as people’s corpses keep turning up, he starts to doubt the official version of events.
This movie may sound like an intriguing thriller, but SERENA is in fact a boring movie, paced far too languidly to sustain long-term interest from most moviegoers. Stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have proven to have some chemistry together in two prior movies (THE SILVER LINING PLAYBOOK and AMERICAN HUSTLE), but here they are out of their element in a period movie that can’t decide if it’s a romance or a mystery and winds up failing as both.
For discerning moviegoers, the main issue to worry about are three strong sex scenes in which the man is shirtless and the woman wears very little clothing. However, the couple is married during the second and third scenes and so at least break the Hollywood stereotype of marriage as a sexless, joyless experience.
Overall, however, SERENA is a low-key loser, its muted emotional turns barely causing a ripple of interest, with too much tragedy and little uplifting or positive story elements to offer. There are themes about the dangers of obsession and greed, but they are not handled strongly or dramatically enough to satisfy the average moviegoer. Media-wise adults likely may be just as offended by the boredom as by anything else.
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