Fans of Danish director Susanne Bier have been crossing their fingers for “Serena.” When the project was announced, all the elements of a great film were there: Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, surrounded by “Silver Linings Playbook” buzz, would star; Bier, Best Foreign Language Film Oscar-winner for 2010's “In a Better World,” was in the director's chair; Together, they'd translate an acclaimed novel by author Rob Rash. That was in April 2012. Two years of radio silence painted a discouraging picture in need of wishful thinking.
Recent weeks proved “Serena” was still alive and kicking. Bier's film would play the London Film Festival in October. A trailer arrived, looking lush, melodramatic, and enticing. Maybe “Serena” wasn't the misstep people feared? Not according to The Hollywood Reporter, who learned that Magnolia Pictures will release the film in 2015 after its sister company, 2929 Productions, the company financing the film, couldn't find other takes.
Set in Depression-era North Carolina, “Serena” tracks the troubled relationship between timber baron George Pemberton (Cooper) and his wife Serena (Lawrence), whose inability to bear children loosens a few screws. Sources tell THR that representatives for “Serena” screened three distinct cuts of the film for potential distributors since last December. An unnamed buyer told the publication that, “The film was so edited, it made no sense.” Another cited uneven performances.
But a Magnolia representative tells HitFix that, despite majors not taking on “Serena,” the decision to release the film on their own is a matter of asking price, not quality. As with previous features, if a deal can't be brokered to give a film like “Serena” a proper release, it makes sense for Magnolia to do themselves.
Is “Serena” the “disaster” insiders hint at or a drama that's simply misunderstood? Bier's period drama would not be the first great film to sit on a shelf before a smaller distributor begrudgingly released it. Whatever the case, the film's fate is sealed: THR's report indicates that “Serena” will not receive an Oscar-qualifying run this year and, instead, will arrive sometime early next year. Keep crossing those fingers.