Richard Roeper Blog

‘Serena:’ A monumental disaster “D-”

I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, “Silver Linings Playbook” stars Bradley Cooper reunite for “Serena.” My review right now.

Fresh off the triumph of “Silver Linings Playbook,” Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence filmed “Serena” in 2012. It languished in limbo for more than a year and a half, and was made available on Video on Demand before this weekend’s theatrical release. In other words, a lot of people realized they had an epic clunker on their hands.

After a string of fine performances, Cooper is utterly unbelievable as George, a ruthless, Depression-era timber baron who has little regard for his men, is cooking the books and won’t stop short of murder if it means saving his business.

His new bride Serena, on the other hand, is clearly bonkers. Ah, but poor, clueless George thinks she’s a “real pistol,” so she becomes his wife and his business partner.

Meanwhile, a local brute named Galloway (Rhys Ifans) credits Serena with saving his life after his hand is chopped off. Now he’s beholden to her. He’ll do anything for Serena. Even …MURDER.

Cooper never once conveys a man of his era. He looks like he just stepped off a GQ photo shoot. Lawrence, obviously a talented actress, is monumentally bad here. There’s no nuance to her performance as Serena, no gradual descent for the character.

Another fine actor, Toby Jones, is comically miscast as the local sheriff. Jones was great as Truman Capote. Playing a North Carolina lawman in rough-and-tumble times, he doesn’t look like he could solve a crossword puzzle or have the strength to detain a kid for skipping school.

This is “Cold Mountain” meets “Heaven’s Gate.” A monumental disaster. I give “Serena” a D-.

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