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Time Out says

It’s third time unlucky for Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. The Hollywood A-team is back with a C+ movie. ‘Serena’ isn’t terrible, but it’s no ‘American Hustle’ or ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. To be fair to J-Coop, they act their socks off. And this must have looked like a winner on paper: an intense drama about a couple who bully and murder their way to the top of the lumber industry in 1930s Colorado, adapted from a bestseller and directed by Oscar winner Susanne Bier.

But, somehow, ‘Serena’ has turned out about as intense as queuing for the self-checkout tills in Sainsbury’s. Cooper is George Pemberton, a smug timber baron who proposes to femme fatale Serena (Lawrence) the moment he claps eyes on her. If the Pembertons were alive today, you’d be rushing to sign your name to a petition on to stop them in their tracks. They want to make their fortune stripping the North Carolina mountains of trees, never mind the hellish conditions for their workers, whose limbs go flying off into the woods at horrifyingly frequent intervals. Serena is the ruthless brains behind the operation, a natural-born businesswoman with a bit of murderous bitch thrown in.

You get the sense that director Susanne Bier can’t decide what to do with Serena. In places she’s a feminist, riding around the mountain in jodhpurs and showing the men how to chop down a tree like you mean it. But when she finds out she can’t bear children she goes off-the-leash loony. We don’t invest anything in either character, and with barely any tension, ‘Serena’ grabs neither head nor heart.

Written by Cath Clarke

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 24 October 2014
  • Duration:109 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Susanne Bier
  • Screenwriter:Christopher Kyle
  • Cast:
    • Jennifer Lawrence
    • Bradley Cooper
    • Rhys Ifans
    • Toby Jones
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