Sunday, July 19, 2015

Serena, the Movie

The first book I ever read on my Kindle was Serena by Ron Rash.  I thought, and think, it is a masterpiece, and have written a review of it elsewhere.  I had heard there was a movie version of it, but it never came to theaters around here (we are not exactly New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, so one has to look carefully to find nonmainstream films). 

It is on NetFlix now, so I watched it.  I also read the reviews on, which I think one has to take with a grain of salt sometimes--some are very thoughtful and well informed, others are just rants, others are just cries for help.  The reviewers there give it 5.4 average, which is pretty low.

I think the film suffers from casting; editing out some important parts of the narrative (which is prodigious and fulsome and probably unfilmable in some ways); from directing that uses a lot of long, long takes of Jennifer Lawrence's face; and from misunderstanding Serena's character.  She is Lady MacBeth; she is  psychopathic.  She doesn't become a psychopath when she loses her baby; she was already one; she is a ravaging and rapacious character; she would never cry over her miscarriage, only take revenge on the doctor (not in the film).  Even the sexuality portrays her as recipient when she is initiator.  She is never weak in the book.  Jennifer Lawrence is just too vulnerable and sweet, although heroic.  She would never commit suicide because Pemberton is dead.  (I guess these are spoilers, but I don't really care.)

But the scenery was nice, even though I wish they had filmed in the real North Carolina mountains rather than the Czech Republic.  I am not sure a European director would really understand what the opening of the Smokey Mountain park actually meant socially, economically, culturally, and ecological to people of the region. 

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