Friday, September 12, 2014

The First "Serena" Trailer Has Cooper and Lawrence Back In Fancy Get-Ups and Melodramatic Tension

Left to right Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence
Let's face it. For the third year in a row, there will be yet another prestige drama starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. After two back-to-back collaborations with director David O. Russell that earned each two Oscar nominations, it looks like they have packed up camp and moved onto somebody else. In this case, it is in the hands of director Susanne Bier's new film Serena, which has been delayed in post-production for quite some time. With the star studded leads, is it possible that these two performers can strike the same luck with a different director? According to the first trailer, it may be a toss-up.

I cannot claim to understand why Jennifer Lawrence and more specifically Bradley Cooper have been nominated two years in a row. While American Hustle had its charm, there was very little that was appealing about Silver Linings Playbook. Even then, their collaborations are quite interesting and reflect Hollywood's attempt to have a new on screen couple akin to Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall or even Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. That is what this feels like. Very few films have recurring leads that pull off this feat. It would be interesting if they also went for a third nomination each. The catch is that in the echelon of anticipated movies, there's a sense that this film only exists to aspire to that prestige that has also blessed Russell (who has his own film Nailed coming out).

With the first trailer recently released, it does manage to come out in time for the Oscar season and looks to be one of the bigger titles, if just for the leads. It also seems to play into a couple other biases including that it is a period piece and has a very slow pace and focus on the performances. Despite wishing that there was more already released to define next year's nominations, it does seem like the Best Actress category is particularly low. Considering that Shailene Woodley for The Fault in Our Stars is the only general consensus, it appears that nothing has really been figured out. Unless this season gets interesting, it may look like yet another Lawrence nomination.

Check out the trailer:

Looks pretty good. It does move a little slow and the conflict is very mundane. However, as a fan of westerns and rural cultured films, this looks like an easy sell. It may largely be based off of my interest in the actors' previous works, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I cannot wait to see how this plays out and if it will be an Oscar move or simply just another film with Cooper and Lawrence. 

Here's the plot description according to IMDb:
"In Depression-era North Carolina, the future of George Pemberton's timber empire becomes complicated when it is learned that his wife, Serena, cannot bear children."
Sounds very maudlin. I will admit that the plot doesn't grab me. In fact, it feels like yet another Depression-era film akin to The Immigrant. This isn't a bad thing and I wouldn't mind more films from this era getting recognition. However, compared to The Immigrant, Serena's plot doesn't look all that interesting nor feels like it has a lot to say. Why should we care about a timber empire? That would be up to the film to decide. The only benefit is that The Immigrant barely came out and doesn't seem to have much traction, so Serena could steal all of its thunder.

Nonetheless, I think that this may be a film to look out for solely on the backs of its performers. I don't really have much to say on it at this moment, but I do feel like it has more Oscar chances than it is initially leading on. It looks good and with a nice looking set, I want to believe that this will be a reflection of Cooper and Lawrence's ability to strike chemistry in the hands of somebody else. Will that happen? The trailer says that the director has won an Oscar, but IMDb is unable to provide information attaining to this fact. However, Serena looks good enough to be one of the lesser nominees to get recognition. Will it be great? Who knows. Just get ready for yet more Lawrence talk at this Fall's Oscar conversations.

Will Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence get Oscar nominations for Serena? Is the film too maudlin to get into the Best Picture race? Is all the hype surrounding its two leads overpowering the film's actual quality?

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