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Bradley Cooper & Jennifer Lawrence sizzle in 'Serena'

Rating: ★★★★☆

Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper and Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence continue their on-screen romance in Susanne Bier's depression-era drama "Serena."

Based on a book by Ron Rash, "Serena," tells the story of a passionate couple running a lumber company in North Carolina during the heart of the depression in the 1930's. Cooper plays George Pemberton, a wealthy and young man with dreams of creating more wealth harvesting all the lumber off his land before the U.S. government establishes the area as a national park. On a trip to see his sister he spies a beautiful woman (Jennifer Lawrence) riding a white horse. His sister tells him that the woman is named Serena and that she was raised on a lumber yard, which tragically caught on fire and killed her entire family when she was only 12 years old.

The two take to each other quickly, and thus marry fast. It would seem that the pair are unstoppable as they return to North Carolina to finish harvesting the lumber. Serena has little problem helping to supervise the harvest and the men realize that she is talented. But of course, Serena and George have their weaknesses. Serena's weakness is her lack of morality when it comes to getting what she wants. And George's weakness is letting Serena manipulate him to become a different man. Their unquenchable greed ultimately becomes their undoing as both of them have a tragic end.

"Serena" is an above average melodrama that is quite an entertaining tale of lust, greed and animal instincts. It's not going to win any awards, but not all good movies do.

I can't think of another couple of Hollywood actors that have such sizzling on-screen chemistry as Lawrence and Cooper do. They are creating a body of work, which tells a story of its own. And "Serena," will be noted as a major role in that story. Both actors are so incredibly invested in their roles that you will never catch them acting.

Attention must be paid to the art departments in "Serena." The film was shot in Prague, in the Czech Republic and easily mirrors the woodlands of 1930's America. The lush cinematography by Morten Søborg is a feast for the eyes and the very compelling reason to see this film in a movie theater. Streaming this film on a small screen will sacrifice the best parts of this film.

Costumes by Signe Sejlund, art direction by Martin Kurel and set decoration by Graeme Purdy are all top notch work. Making this a must see for anyone that likes period films. But the film is not just a pretty, romantic flick. It also boasts equal amount of action and should be enjoyed equally among the sexes.

All in all, Serena is one of the best films in early 2015. It won't win anyone an Oscar, but it is sure to win you over.

"Serena" is rated R for some violence and sexuality and has a run-time of one hour and 49 minutes.

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