Based on a bestselling novel by Ron Rash, Serena, as brought to the screen by director Susanne Bier and screenwriter Christopher Kyle, feels like a husk of an adaptation even to one completely unfamiliar with the source material. It’s the sort of film that, at least in the form prepped for theatrical release, makes one inclined to believe its makers have completely lost the ability to tell a story. And it’s not like that ever seems like a deliberate stylistic choice, with Bier actually focusing on some thematic flourish off on the sidelines. Serena is always focused on its plot. Its perpetually rushed, choppily told, borderline confusing plot.
There is a certain poignancy to Jonny Lee Miller’s version of Sherlock Holmes in how he acts tough when he is at his most vulnerable. When we saw his reunion with Moriarty earlier this season, it made sense that the easiest way for Sherlock to have to interact with that person was by using biting sarcasm and almost immature name-calling.