Is there any way to get more pumped up for …
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’s a much quoted line from David Fincher’s Seven, found in one of many notebooks scribbled by horrific serial killer John Doe, that reads: “Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light”. The sentiment and association is very appropriate when musing on the visceral sledgehammer assault on emotions, morality and senses represented by David Peace’s Red Riding series, a sprawling nine year epic of neo-noir, adult fear and a simmering stew of all forms of human evil.
After the critical blessing that his indoctrinating debut Martha Marcy May Marlene generated on the festival circuit back in 2011, Sean Durkin’s sophomore feature was awarded a big screen projection at the Special Presentation strand of the Toronto Film Festival this week, an unusual upgrade as this four-part TV funded saga has already been aired on the UK’s Channel 4 network.