Coming to theatres from director Susanne Bier based on a book by Ron Rash and Magnolia Pictures is a life with SERENA.

This film tells the story of George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper), a timber man who wants to expand his empire. He meets Serena (Jennifer Lawrence), a free spirited woman who clearly knows the lumbering business. Swept off his feet he marries her and they begin their life in North Carolina.

His partner Buchanan (David Dencik) isn’t happy about the change in George as he gives Serena a place in the business. When the opportunity to get away from the business arises, Buchanan turns to Sheriff McDowell (Toby Jones). Serena convinces George that something should be done to stop Buchanan from ruining all they’ve created.

Lumbering continues as Galloway (Rhys Ifans), keeps the work going and all with a ‘knowing’ of things around the camp. Also in the camp is Rachel (Ana Ularu), a young woman who had an affair with George before Serena.

One more betrayal pushes them both to far!

FINAL WORD: Cooper as Pemberton is a man who knows what he wants and Serena captures him. Thrilled that he found a woman who understands his lifestyle, he has no problem handing some of the responsibility of the operations to his wife. He takes this character through every situation from panic to desperation to anger with a steely eyed look than Cooper has become known for.

Lawrence as Serena has a deliberate coldness about her. Clearly a free spirited woman, she is also haunted by the events of her family and the insecurity of another woman’s child. There is no doubt that Lawrence is beautiful and that beauty comes through even with the coldness of her character’s stare and ruthless manipulations.

Ifans as Galloway is someone I’d never want to meet up with in a dark alley. Believing he has the ability to foretell events, it is one event that puts him on the side of Serena and he will do anything to save his protector. Ifans has the amazing ability to portray such a wide range of characters so it does not surprise me that he fits in here.

Jones as the Sherriff is a man determined to stop Pemberton and bring him to justice. He pushes on the couple constantly and as he tries to save people in the town there are secrets even George isn’t aware of.

Other cast include: Sean Harris as Campell, Kim Bodnia as Abe Hermann, Same Reid as Vaughn and Blake Ritson as Lowenstein.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give SERENA four tubs of popcorn out of five. There are so many secrets in this storyline and with Lawrence and Cooper at the helm it is amazing to watch. The fine line between sanity and shocking is very thin. When Ifran enters the mix it is hard to put all the secrets back in the box! The ending is as shocking as it can possibly be.

The cinematography is so beautiful that it does deserve mention. The clouds rolling down the hills in some of the shots is extraordinary. It adds a rawness and beauty to a very hard life in 1930s North Carolina. The set and costuming add to the intensity of the story in that time period.

Based on a 2008 novel by Ron Rash, SERENA was #34 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Rash is also an American poet, short story writer a Professor of Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University.

In the end – some loves can never let you go!

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