August 7, 2012. Over two years ago. That's when I posted that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence had already wrapped production on Serena,the film based on the Ron Rash novel. No one is sure what took director Susanne Bier so long to finish the film and since it has taken so very long there's a general sense that something may be amiss. Movie biz folks think the film should have been released earlier in order to capitalize on the popularity of the pair's success in both Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. I tend to think just the opposite; working together for the third time makes it hard for audiences, even at this late date, to see past the actors to the characters; their pairing seems a bit overworked. The first two times were magic, it's possible the third time round won't be the charm. The Hollywood Reporter cites an un-named person claiming that the reason it took so long is the director's perfectionism.
"It was just a real precision edit because the story is about a woman's descent into madness. And Susanne is a total perfectionist."Descent into madness? Except this time, it's her character, not his. Hmmm, I guess we can expect the usual high drama. And while we don't hear a lot from Bradley Cooper's character in the trailer (below), is that an upper crusty accent that we do hear? Listen to how he introduces himself. Later he sounds like himself, so I'm not sure.
Good, bad or mediocre, the film will premiere at the London Film Festival running October 8 - 19th. The trailer has finally been released along with the poster and a scheduled release date of October 24th for the U.K. (I wonder if that will include Scotland if the referendum to break from the union passes?). No word on a release date for the North American market but since it is the third time we'll see the two together, a lot of eyeballs are eyeing it critically.
UPDATED 9/17/2014: Just learned there was reason to worry about this one. Judging from this report in the Hollywood Reporter, the film is too uneven, specifically Jennifer Lawrence's performance as the childless wife of the timber baron who 'descends into madness'. Kind of a shock considering Lawrence's Best Actress Oscar for American Hustle. Here's the news as reported by The Hollywood Reporter:
No real surprise then, that the film will not receive an Oscar-qualifying run. Instead the movie will be release in the first quarter of the new year. Let's take a look, keeping the plot of the book behind the movie in mind.Serena finally has found a home.Magnolia Pictures has picked up U.S. rights to the long-gestating Jennifer Lawrence-Bradley Cooper period drama, though with none of the fanfare expected from a film featuring Oscar-caliber names, including director Susanne Bier (2011 foreign-language winner In a Better World).Sources say Magnolia, whose sister company 2929 Productions financed the film, became the default distributor when no other company would take the bait. In fact, since December, CAA — which reps the movie, Bier, Lawrence and Cooper — has held three private screenings featuring three different cuts of the Depression-era film. Says one top buyer, "The film was so edited, it made no sense." Another called the performances "uneven, particularly Lawrence's [descent into madness]" as the childless wife of a timber baron.
A New York Times bestseller and PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist, Serena by award-winning author Ron Rash is “masterfully written…sprawling, engrossing and—from time to time—nightmarish,” (San Francisco Chronicle); a remarkable novel that “recalls both John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy,” (The New Yorker). Rash’s chilling gothic tale of greed, corruption, and revenge set against the backdrop of the 1930s wilderness and America’s burgeoning environmental movement was named a Best Book of the Year by more than a dozen national publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, and Miami Herald. Serena is brilliant contemporary fiction that exquisitely balances beauty and violence, passion and rage, cruelty and love.