Jen­nifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper play a cou­ple de­scend­ing into mad­ness and mur­der in the rugged moun­tains of North Carolina

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES PLAY -

While hunt­ing with col­leagues in the Snowy Moun­tains of North Carolina in 1929, lum­ber baron George Pem­ber­ton (Bradley Cooper) de­clares that he wants to bag a pan­ther.

He’s about to land him­self a wild­cat of a dif­fer­ent sort: a glam­orous young wife, Serena Shaw (Jen­nifer Lawrence). Serena has blonde hair in a wavy bob, like a silent movie star, and a fam­ily back­ground in the tim­ber trade to boot.

A bet­ter part­ner in business and life for George seems hard to imag­ine.

She also claims not to be both­ered by the fact that George had pre­vi­ously been dal­ly­ing with a fe­male em­ployee (Ana Ularu).

Times are tough: the stock mar­ket has crashed and George is strug­gling to keep his business.

To make mat­ters worse, lob­by­ists want to con­vert his patch of for­est to na­tional park.

But George isn’t against a lit­tle amoral­ity if it’s go­ing to help him suc­ceed, and nei­ther is Serena.

The last time we saw Cooper and Lawrence to­gether they were gen­er­at­ing sparks in the ro­man­tic com­edy Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book.

In Serena, they again have pal­pa­ble sex­ual chem­istry, but in the ser­vice of a deadly se­ri­ous melo­drama with echoes of Mac­beth.

Dan­ish di­rec­tor Su­sanne Bier is work­ing from a 2008 novel by Ron Rash. She brings a com­pelling sense of time and place to this ru­ral noir with evoca­tive moun­tain scenery (the Czech Repub­lic stands in for North Carolina).

Her main tri­umph, though, is in the cast­ing.

This is a fairly melo­dra­matic story of mad­ness and mur­der but Lawrence grounds it with her pow­er­ful and nat­u­ral per­for­mance.

Jen­nifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in Serena.

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