Serena, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper’s Third Movie Together, Is Neither Masterpiece Nor Mess

October 13, 2014 9:16 PM

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Serena, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper’s Third Movie Together, Is Neither Masterpiece Nor Mess

There was no getting around the peculiarity of a film once tipped for Oscar success debuting at a festival whose last major world premiere was Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2009. Stranger still, tonight's premiere took place not in one of the festival's flagship venues, but in a nine-screen multiplex opposite the Leicester Square tube. Even the habitually sycophantic festival program seemed oddly equivocal about the film's merits, referring to Bier’s creation as “enjoyably traditional” and little more. All signs pointed to a spectacular fiasco — an impression only enhanced once the film’s U.S. distributor Magnolia announced it would be releasing Serena straight-to-VOD next February, despite the A-list star wattage on evident display. The film’s London screening thusly became a hot ticket, and no wonder: People tend to slow down for car crashes.

Still, if Serena proved to be an unwieldy prospect for festivals, distributors, and audiences alike, it’s not because it’s a screamingly bad film, or even an embarrassment for its stars to sweep under the rug: It’s because it’s a wholly unremarkable piece of work. Critics are unlikely to rally aroun...

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