Serena(Suszane Bier) 2015 *** 12/10/2015

The movie was best when Serena(Jennifer Lawrence) was evil.  It opens with shots of the Smoky Mountains, and ends with the murderous, damaged woman burning her house down with herself inside; as a child her entire family had died in a conflagration she escaped.  The last shot is only of the mountains again.  They do not change.  Bradley Cooper felt weak to me.  His face is too feminine for the role of George Pemberton, a logging baron in Carolina, and his performance does not make up for this.  Lawrence is boring until her darker side is revealed.  Her jealousies to a woman who George fathered a child with before they meet are palpable.  Her anger and cosmic despair after she miscarries and is left barren is affecting.  Middling supporting performances from Rhys Ifans as Galloway, a taciturn hunter who acquires a life’s debt to Serena, and David Dencik, George’s business partner who is murdered by him at the behest of Serena, are distracting.  Toby Jones takes a strong turn as Sheriff McDowell.  The film was also marred by a banal soundtrack, by what I call the “Independent Film Orchestra.”  In fact, it was the Slovak National Orchestra doing Appalachia, and it sounded like it.

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