041015-div-serena

If a movie bombs at the theater and no one is there to see it, does it make a sound? Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are poised to become this generation's Bogart and Bacall. They have more than a handful of Oscar nominations--and a couple of statues--between them. Now, rumors of a real -life romance are only making their box-office draw stronger. Unfortunately, if the best thing people can say about this latest effort is that it's forgettable, that will be a win.

I won't go too far down the rabbit hole with the plot here: Suffice it to say, this story has all the makings of a Mexican soap opera--or an American one, for that matter: betrayal, infidelity, corruption, illegitimate children, mayhem and murder. George (Cooper) owns a timber business in depression-era North Carolina. He meets Serena (Lawrence) while visiting his sister one day, and the attraction is instant. They marry, and Serena becomes a wife and a partner in George's struggling business. Maybe they got married too soon, or maybe they both are unstable, unlikable, unethical people. It doesn't really matter why things take a wrong turn; because in the end, nobody really cares.

To describe this movie as unwatchable is generous. Neither Cooper nor Lawrence seem at ease with the painfully stilted and shapeless characters they portray. If these were the days of Bogie and Bacall, I would have guessed the studio had them at gunpoint to finish out a contract. Stay home and watch Whiplash. It's a 3.