Have you ever seen a movie trailer that just sticks with you? Grabs apart of your soul and just doesn’t let go. That moment when the anticipation becomes apart of your being? Then maybe that same movie releases a second trailer mere weeks before its release and it looks like a completely different movie. Have you ever had that happen before? Yeah, I know it’s not very well likely. Unfortunately, I know this feeling all too well. Last summer, I was on YouTube one day and came across this movie trailer for an upcoming production called “Serenity”. It starred Matthew McConaughey & Anne Hathaway. The trailer depicted the story of a reluctant woman looking to hire a hitman to kill her abusive husband. Color me, intrigued. Fast forward to this past January and a brand new trailer starts playing mere moments before Glass. This time it’s a completely new plot about how McConaughey’s residence drives people to the brink of insanity.
In some strange way both trailers are right. Though it’s the former which sells the movie a bit better. Serenity follows Baker Dill, played by McConaughey, a PTSD-ridden fishermen who gets roped into killing an abusive husband, played by Jason Clarke. The film, as a whole, is a really interesting piece of cinema to undress. It’s layered in a really unique way to establish itself with a rather impressive voice. However, it’s not all smooth waters throughout its duration. The first act of this film is a tangled mess.
Rather than establishing some character development for Dill, we get a series of character moments. McConaughey just does – stuff. It’s a really choppy, badly acted (and written), sloppily edited piece of cinema. The audience is invited on this journey that sees Dill as a fisher, lover and/or hooker – depending on how you look at it, a friend and a depressed drunk. These scenes just feel so random and lack focus. Taking away from the whole experience of the film. It begins to almost become laughable as this film stumbles to find a tone to anchor itself within. Then, this ship finds an external anchor in Anne Hathaway.
Hathaway really takes the film and firmly establishes the direction of the film. Rather than feeling like a day in the life of a drunk fisherman, we now have our heading as a revenge movie. As the film makes this transition though, there is one scene in particular between McConaughey and Hathaway that firmly establishes the much needed development for Dill. It’s amazing how one scene does more to establish Dill than the entirety of the first act. This is almost a moment for clarity. As weird as it is to say, McConaughey seems to sober up. We know have the leading man that Serenity so badly needed. McConaughey turns in this truly gripping and emotionally damaged performance. Hathaway, playing Karen Zariakas – an abuse victim, delivers yet another stellar performance. Karen is the duality of both broken and joyful and Hathaway holds equally to the strength of McConaughey throughout her performance.
Just as you think the film is getting good, it manages to fall back into old habits. We’re introduced to Frank Zariakas. Frank, played by Clarke, is the abusive husband and stepfather. When you’re surrounded by the intense performances of McConaughey and Hathaway – these two emotionally damaged characters – you better rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, Clarke doesn’t do anything of the sort. Turning in a flat and wooden performance for film’s antagonist. Frank is your typical mobster bad guy we’ve seen in film a hundred times before. There’s one scene, in particular, between Clarke, McConaughey and Djimon Hounsou that is incredibly hard to watch. It’s riddled with stereotypes, bad acting and terrible writing. Bright side, though, Clarke does a great job at making the audience hate him. Isn’t that what bad guys are supposed to do?
Overall, Serenity (2019), is a strong sail but can be set on some rocky waters. The first act of the film feels like a drunken montage aiming to pass itself off as character development. Not to mention, you have an antagonist that falls a bit flat by Jason Clarke. However, its’ anchored by strong, emotionally driven and often intense performances by Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. Serenity presents a revenge story dressed up with a delicious twist and smart
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