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Should have been so much better...
Somewhere in the world exists an edit of this movie that's halfway decent, it just doesn't happen to be the one available.
To cut to the chase (movie term!), Serena should have been a good movie but it's just not. It's an interesting case because of how much they get right. The cast is fantastic, the performances are even better, it's very pretty (the costumes and cinematography are outstanding) and it even benefits from strong characterization and an interesting story. Yet, despite all of this, they can't manage to turn Serena into the movie it deserves to be.
The story of Serena is essentially about a girl who never thought she'd find anything that resembles love or family and upon finding it, grows desperate to never let it go. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic in it. It's certainly one of her standout performances and seeing as she's given so much meaty material to work with, it's not hard to see why she took the role. Bradley Cooper is less good, his phony accent slips more often than not but he doesn't embarrass himself either.
The problem however is that this film is edited into oblivion. Some of the cuts don't even make sense. Scenes are followed up with seemingly random scenes that don't appear to have much to do with what happened. Hints at trouble in paradise between Cooper and Lawrence are immediately followed by them having wild sex. (Don't get me started on the sex scenes. They are frequent, add little to the story and 80% of them feel gratuitous). There's a shot early on of Cooper standing shirtless in his home doing nothing that's dropped in between two scenes for literally no reason. This is a movie that tries hard to distract you from what a disappointment it is.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the beats of where the story went but the editing ruined anything that could resemble a decent movie. My theory is that the original cut was likely insanely long and needed to be heavily cut down but their problem is, they cut down far too much. This is the rare movie that would probably have benefited from being more than two and half hours long.
To conclude, should have been a much better movie that it is. You probably won't hate it with a passion but I doubt you'll love it either. If you're a Jennifer Lawrence fan and want to see her really slay a role, you may enjoy this but other than that, I don't see you getting your money's worth.