by Mark Wilshin
It doesn’t look good from the get-go. George (Bradley Cooper) is a hunter on the quest for a near-extinct puma, as well as a logger, virtually singlehandedly deforesting the forests of the Smoky Mountains, North Carolina. Not to mention the slew of workplace accidents, or the womanising. But it’s when he meets, and promptly falls in love with, Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) that things of from bad to worse – as their all-consuming love, and her miscarriage and ensuing infertility, start to tear their lives apart. For a Susanne Bier film, normally so sensitive and perceptive, it’s surprisingly clichéd – the catlike femme fatale who starts to claw at her man’s honour and virtue. Like a Charleston Lady Macbeth, she goads him into murder, rabidly protective of anything that threatens their log-cabin Eden. And moving at an almost glacial pace, Serena‘s simple and simplistic story feels stretched. It’s stylish, beautifully filmed and its production design is utterly credible. But with a risible ending and a misogynistic eye, unfortunately Susanne Bier’s theme of female power tips drunkenly over into crazed fury.
Serena is showing on Oct 13th & 17th at the 58th BFI London Film Festival