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Serena

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence stumble in this tepid historical drama

Serena, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in 'Serena.'

Larry D Horricks/©Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

So you think Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are invincible onscreen? Ha! Serena is damning evidence to the contrary. Lawrence shot this folly between two David O. Russell films, her Oscar-crowned Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, both with Cooper. They will survive. Audiences forced to endure the 109 coma-inducing minutes of Serena should bring an e-book or a soft pillow.

What led the actors astray? Ron Rash’s 2008 novel won raves. And director Susanne Bier guided the Danish film In a Better World to a foreign-language Oscar in 2011. Maybe the script, by Christopher Kyle, would play better in Danish, since Lawrence and Cooper nearly choke on their dialogue.

He plays George Pemberton, a Depression-era logging tycoon who brings his bride, Serena (Lawrence), home to North Carolina to watch him make his fortune. Serena doesn’t watch. She’s a doer. Rachel (Ana Ularu), the townie who spewed out George’s bastard kid, is screwed, especially when Serena miscarries. Serena’s descent into madness and murder sparks a storm of overacting that makes the Macbeths look like introverts and reduces this misbegotten lumber-world tragedy to splinters. Left for dead since 2012, Serena would better serve its stars by burial, not resurrection.

In This Article: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence

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