Picoreview: Serena: I walked out.
Spoilers after the cut, including How I Would Have Done It.
It wasn’t badly acted, but I didn’t like any of the characters and it was very clear that at least one and possibly both of the leads would end up dead because of the other one, but with none of the graceful inevitable tragedy of a Chinese film. It reminded me of Legends of the Fall, a movie which I didn’t like at all (except for the title: I think it’s an awesome freaking title) but regarded as being full of fine performances by everybody.
The story, roughly, is that timber magnate Brad Cooper’s business is in trouble what with governments wanting to create national parks and boring stuff like that right where he’s cutting down all the trees. He goes to town where he sees Jennifer Lawrence who has a Mysterious Timber Past and chases after her and proposes. They have a lot of sex and apparently actually get married but the movie was too busy focusing on the sexy times to show us that.
They return to Brad’s camp to see his ex-girlfriend 9 months pregnant and his gay business partner so upset about the new wife (who goes on to Impress Everybody with her Timber Knows) that he sells them out to the feds.
Naturally, Brad has to kill him for this, an act which Jennifer encourages by saying “He betrayed you. He was never your friend,” both before and after Brad kills him. The second time, Brad says, “You don’t even know,” thus leading me to believe that Brad and his gay partner were more than just business partners, which is certainly what *I* would have done with the story.
This was approximately the point at which I left. In my mind the story concludes this way:
Brad, gradually overcome by the guilt and horror of having murdered his former lover, begins to loathe Jennifer, who in turn resents and mistrusts his relationship (which may or may not exist) with the other woman who bore his child. Jennifer opts to pick up where Brad’s gay partner left off and sell his timber land to the government so that she, at least, has cash in hand. Brad, betrayed, plots to kill Jennifer, but his obsession with hunting panthers (what, didn’t I mention that? it opened the film and didn’t pan out before I left) provides an opportunity for Jennifer to kill him first, possibly with the assistance of the Sexy Dead-Eyed Hunting Guide who Senses Things About People and who may Know or Be Responsible for Things in her Mysterious Timber Past. Then they probably have sex and run off to Brazil together to take over the virgin timber lands that Brad had there and put up for hock but Jennifer with her Wiles and Brad’s money manages to finagle back. There she is crushed, ironically, by a falling tree, and the Sexy Dead-Eyed Hunting Guide walks away with all winnings.
I went and looked it up. This is *nothing* like what actually happens in the book (apparently it’s a book), or, evidently, the movie.
But it’s totally what *should* have happened.