Rock The Boat

SEREN­ITY Matthew Mc­Conaughey con­tem­plates mur­der at sea in a trop­i­cal neo-noir…

Total Film - - Dialogue - JF

In Steven Knight’s last film as di­rec­tor, Locke, Tom Hardy spent its en­tirety driv­ing down the M6 in a BMW X5 dur­ing the dead of night while in­ter­mit­tently dis­cussing con­crete. At the end of the shoot, the Bri­tish-born writer/di­rec­tor made a vow to his crew. “I said, ‘I prom­ise, the next one will be­gin: EXT. BEACH.’ Which is what it was!”

Filmed in Mau­ri­tius, which dou­bles for the fic­tional Ply­mouth Is­land, Seren­ity stars Matthew Mc­Conaughey as Baker Dill, a fish­er­man with an Ahab-like ob­ses­sion for catch­ing an elu­sive tuna. Down on his luck, and in dire need of cash, Dill is ap­proached by his glam­orous ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) with a deadly propo­si­tion – $10 mil­lion to kill her abu­sive hus­band (Ja­son Clarke) and toss the body over­board.

So far, so clas­sic Hol­ly­wood noir (with added tuna). But Knight leaned into the tropes in ser­vice of a story where what you see can’t nec­es­sar­ily be taken at face value. “I wanted it to look a bit like a film,” Knight ex­plains. “So that peo­ple are think­ing the di­a­logue is a bit Casablanca-y. I’m as­pir­ing to that. And then see if I could take it

fur­ther, up­set it, and sub­vert it, and do some­thing dif­fer­ent with it.” He even goes as far as to claim “noth­ing re­ally adds up”. Least of all Jeremy Strong’s mys­te­ri­ous sales­man Reid Miller, who knows far more about Dill than any­one pos­si­bly could. “The sec­ond time or third time, if you watch it, you’re go­ing to see lots of dif­fer­ent things.”

Though a highly pro­lific script doc­tor/screen­writer, this is only Knight’s third film as di­rec­tor fol­low­ing 2013 dou­ble-bill Locke and Hum­ming­bird, but Seren­ity is worlds apart from any­thing he has done be­fore. “If you’re not try­ing new things, there’s no point,” nods Knight, who was in­spired by an­other sto­ry­telling medium, which will go un­men­tioned for fear of spoil­ers. “What I wanted to do is look at the na­ture of telling a story it­self. And also, I’m in­ter­ested in new forms of sto­ry­telling… and how peo­ple re­spond to story.”

Named af­ter a real boat that Knight sailed in St. Lu­cia with a Dill-like cap­tain, Seren­ity’s many water-based se­quences were filmed for real on the In­dian Ocean. Mc­Conaughey even learnt how to catch tuna for the part, and struck gold on his first go. “We went out on the Seren­ity to learn the phys­i­cal process of catch­ing a fish, and I swear, 10 min­utes in, the rod went ‘Bang!’ He caught a 200lb yel­lowfin tuna, and there are pho­tos to prove it,” laughs Knight. “When we came back into dock with this huge tuna every­body went: ‘OK, we’ll take you se­ri­ously now.’

It was a quite ex­tra­or­di­nary event.”

ETA | 1 MArch / SErEn­iTy opEnS on Sky cin­EMA And in cin­E­MAS ThiS Spring.

CaTCh a kIllER Mc­Conaughey as tuna-mad Baker, out fish­ing with Dji­mon Houn­sou and Ja­son Clarke, who plays the cur­rent hus­band to Baker’s ex (Anne Hathaway, be­low).

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