Friday, November 14, 2014

How bad could 'Serena' be?

When "Serena" was announced three years ago, it sounded like a guaranteed Oscar nominee.

Stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper were en route to Academy Award nominations for "Silver Linings Playbook." (She won.) Director Susanne Bier had made the Danish film "In a Better World," which got the foreign film Oscar. Ron Rash's novel about the Lady Macbeth-style wife of a 1930s lumber baron had earned the 2009 PEN/Faulkner award.

North Carolinians took special note, because the story is set in our mountains. (Sadly, shooting took place in the Czech Republic. Shades of "Cold Mountain"!) And then...nothing.

The movie was supposed to come out at the end of 2012. Then 2013. Then, perhaps, the end of 2014. But every major distributor passed after seeing it. Now Magnolia has picked it up for a Feb. 26 release in 2015, during one of the dead spots in the filmgoing year. (The production company 2929 is a sister company, so perhaps Magnolia couldn't say no.)

The reaction of the British press and public may explain why. According to the snarky site, these are actual lines from reviews after the film played the BFI London Film Festival last month:

"Have you ever wanted to punch a film right in the face if it, you know, actually had a face to punch? Well, that’s 'Serena' for you."

"Considering the chemistry Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have – both as friends and frequent co-workers – they fail to fizzle here, and that’s down to the wafer-thin prose they have to spit."

And (my favorite): "The movie seems to know it’s outstayed its welcome, stumbling loudly to its conclusion like a scream queen chased through a field in high heels by an axe-wielding maniac."

Audiences spurned it, too: It opened on 185 British screens and earned less than $1,000 per screen. Naysayers suggest it'll go straight to video, though Magnolia generally releases its films for brief theatrical runs.

Now I want to see it even more, partly because I can scarcely believe so much talent would fail spectacularly and partly because I like an occasional cinematic train wreck. Bring it on!


Anonymous said...

Sounds a lot like "Medellin." It almost killed Vinny Chase's career.