Follow TV Tropes


Film / Serena

Go To
Directed by Danish director Susanne Bier, Serena is a 2014 Period Piece drama based on Ron Rash's novel of the same name. Set in the Smoky Mountains during The Great Depression, it is about George Pemberton (played by Bradley Cooper), a timber company owner who meets a mysterious blonde woman, Serena (Jennifer Lawrence). They marry and she comes with him to live at the site of his company, where she quickly joins him in taking charge of the work. While George deals with plans by the government to turn the woods into a national park, Serena becomes pregnant with his child. Then things go downhill fast...

Has nothing to do with the freeware adventure game of the same name. Don't confuse it with the 1997 biopic Selena either.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Serena notes that Buchanan seems a little too fond of George.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Serena is the sole survivor of a cabin fire that consumed her whole family. She later reveals that she survived because she was the only one awake and in the living room in the middle of the night. However, she doesn't reveal how the fire started, and considering her Ax-Crazy Yandere mental instability later...
  • An Arm and a Leg: Galloway loses his hand in an accident.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Discussed during a presentation advocating conserving the Smoky Mountains. The national park advocates stress the importance of preserving American wildlife. George counters that the lumber industry provides much-needed jobs. The national park advocates counter that the lumber industry pays its workers next to nothing and pockets the profits for themselves. George counters that it's still more than what most employers pay, which is why there's a line 50+ long every time there's a job opening. The national park advocates counters that there are such frequent job openings due to the high mortality rate of the Dangerous Workplace. George counters that most Americans know the job is dangerous but are still proud to sign on. Most of the "average American workers" in the room cheer. It's hard to tell who is truly in the right, if at all.
  • The Corrupter: Serena manipulates George into increasingly questionable things in the name of their happiness, including killing Buchanan.
  • Dangerous Workplace: As the national park people point out, the timber camp is a pretty unsafe place to work. Over the course of the film, one worker is pinned down by a fallen log, another is bitten by a snake and loses his foot, Galloway loses a hand to an unfortunate axe swing.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the novel, Serena is killed years after the events of the plot by George's now grown son, Jacob. In the film, she commits suicide after her plans fail.
  • The Dragon: Galloway serves as Serena's muscle and does most of the leg work of her plans.
  • Driven to Suicide: Serena, in the end.
  • Downer Ending: Facing criminal charges, George is killed by a mountain cougar he has been tracking since the start of the film. Meanwhile, Serena, having lost the man she loved and all of her dreams, commits suicide by burning down the cabin she's in. On the upside, George's son Jacob is on his way with his mother to a better life.
  • Femme Fatale: Serena.
  • The Great Depression
  • Great White Hunter: Downplayed with George, who spends much of the film hunting a mountain lion. While he only hunts it for the sake of bagging a montain lion, he is shown sparing a bobcat because it wasn't his target.
  • Love Makes You Crazy / Love Makes You Evil: After losing her and George's child in a miscarriage, Serena goes to a very dark place and tries to kill Rachel and her and George's son to have George all to herself.
  • Make It Look Like A Hunting "Accident": Buchanan's death at the hands of George.
  • The Mole: Buchanan starts secretly negotiating with the people behind the national park project.
  • Nerves of Steel: When Galloway loses a hand in an accident, Serena springs right into action and improvises a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
  • One of the Guys: Serena fits right in with the exclusively male workers at the work camp.
  • Oscar Bait: A bleak period piece drama set during The Great Depression starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, fresh from another Oscar-winning success, as a morally dubious timber tycoon and his increasingly unstable wife.
  • Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Serena has a big burn on her back from the fire that killed her family.
  • Red Right Hand: Galloway, Serena's Dragon. At first, he has a branding on his hand from a prison sentence. He later loses one of his hands in an accident as well.
  • Scenery Porn: The film features lots of elegant shots of the woods and period sets.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: George's company regularly bribes senators and other officials to get their way.
  • Hero Antagonist: The local sheriff, who investigates George for bribery.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Neither Serena nor Galloway have any qualms about killing the infant Jacob.
  • Yandere: Serena becomes increasingly possessive about George, even to the point of being willing to kill his son to have him all to herself.