Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence returns to the big screen with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 in a few weeks, while her film Serena – once expected to be a potential awards season contender – will finally release in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2015. Serena is a project that Lawrence worked on with her Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle costar Bradley Cooper a couple years ago now, but the historical drama has only just received a green-band trailer today (see above).
Serena, based on Ron Rash’s novel, takes place in late 1920s North Carolina, where the newlyweds George (Cooper) and Serena Pemberton (Lawrence) set out to build a timber empire. Their success as business owners is matched only by their passion for each other; hence, things go bad (and quick), once George’s past catches up to him. Meanwhile, Serena (already troubled by a recent discovery that could affect her marriage to George) sets out to make thing right, leaving her all the more vulnerable… and unstable.
No surprise, Serena‘s troubling psychodrama premise once attracted the attention of Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky and had Angelina Jolie interested in playing the film’s namesake, before Susanne Bier (who helmed the Oscar-winning Danish film In a Better World) stepped in to call the shots with Lawrence starring opposite Cooper.
Between the leads, director, and a script penned by Christopher Kyle (K-19: The Widowmaker), it sounds as though Serena has the potential to be an impressive work of cinema. However, a longer-than-usual editing process resulted in a final cut of Serena that proved unable to secure a distributor for quite some time (before Magnolia Pictures finally stepped in) and generated little in the way of early positive buzz after it completed its tour of the film festival circuit earlier this year.
Serena, judging by the trailer footage, seems respectable enough, but early reviews have indicated that there’s a good reason why so many studios passed on the project. THR‘s review says “it is difficult to believe a single word of [‘Serena’], still less to care about [the main characters],” while Vulture‘s review asserts Serena is neither memorably good or bad, but just “a wholly unremarkable piece of work.” The latter sentiment seems to best sum up the critical consensus on Serena thus far – namely, it’s not a complete mess, but it’s not really “good” either.
The U.S. filmgoing public, however, will get to decide for itself how good (or how not good ) Serena is soon enough. Bier’s film will be available for viewing at home a month before it arrives in U.S. theaters at the end of next March; there, it opens against the dramatic action/thriller The Gunman and the DreamWorks animated feature Home.
Serena will be available for viewing via On Demand and iTunes starting February 26th, 2015. It opens in select U.S. theaters a month later, on March 27th.