Serenity (2019)

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Food: The most fitting meal to eat while watching a movie about catching fish is, well, fish. As I am stuck in quarantine, and have not ventured to make anything as adventurous as fish, I will share about the best fish meal I have had. I was traveling in Lisbon, Portugal when my friend and I joined up with a group of locals and they took us into town for the night. We ended up in a hole-in-the-wall spot called Zé dos Cornos which aesthetically is the equivalent to a NY bodega plus a few foldout tables. I ordered the salt cod (salted codfish) and it was absolutely mouthwatering. Savory down to each and every bite, yet so refreshing. We also got pitchers of the house wine and specialty green wine – an archaic Portuguese delicacy. Affordable & delicious. When in Lisbon!

Film: “Serenity” (2019), directed by Steven Knight, introduces a maverick fisherman named Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey being very Matthew McConaughey) who is on a one-track minded quest to catch an obscure giant tuna fish, he has named “Justice.” That’s right folks, that’s right. But buckle up, because this Moby Dick adventure takes a swift turn into a whole new genre of filmmaking and quick!

The film is already self-serious enough, as Dill Baker stomps around town, rambling breathy rants and scowling, but then his ex-wife Karen comes to town, played by Anne Hathaway. and with a brazen strut and a provocative pout, and we are suddenly in a melodramatic neo-noir. Hathaway sports voluptuous blonde locks, a striking mole on her left cheek bone and pristine outfit sets made for a weekend in the Hamptons. She offers him $10 million to murder her abusive new husband Frank (Jason Clarke), who is an abominable man who makes a grandiose scene wherever he goes.

Stick with me. Karen is his ex-wife, who seems to have left him while Dill went off to war. They share a son, and Karen is begging Dill to commit this crime on behalf of him. “Patrick wants you to, he sent me here.” Patrick (Rafael Sayegh) is a desperately lonely and troubled 13 year old boy who spends all of his time playing video games to escape the reality of his frightening home life. At one point, Karen reveals that Patrick is able to hear Dill “through the computer” whenever Dill mutters aloud to his child. This seems unimportant when initially stated, but as things in this small town called Plymouth start to feel suspicious, it is clear that there is more to the story than meets the eye.

There is really no better way to discuss this film than the way Variety writer Andrew Barker does, so without further ado, let me share his words: “[The film has] ham-fisted dialogue and gratuitous violence and furtive boat sex, so many shots of McConaughey’s bare butt that each cheek deserves its own supporting credit.”

By the end, the film explains itself to it’s audience over and over again. It wallops you over the head with it’s twist. Seeing that the twist is the only element of the story that is compelling enough to make the film worth watching, they really had to drive it home. It has been said that it is the kind of film that has a ridiculous plot-twist that is used to explain why all of the performances were so bad the entire time.

The truth is, “Serenity,” despite having a potentially interesting concept, is so poorly executed, that is just feels absurd. However, in all it’s stupidity and ridiculousness, it lands in the realm of bad that is completely entertaining. Not an easy place to fall. The creativity is there, and this ambitious feature is stocked with an award winning cast. Ultimately, though, it simply fails to laugh at itself enough to be in on the joke, (see: “Cabin in the Woods” 2011), or be good enough to be taken as seriously as it wants to be taken. In the end, it should be enjoyed with friends, over drinks, as though it were a comedy.

 

 

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Additional Content… Here are some hilarious Letterboxd.com reviews I thought I would include:

“The kid programmed a patch into a fishing game where he can make his parents have rough sweaty sex on a boat >>>>>>>>>

This movie gets five stars lmao fuck it.” ~ Review by Tom Philip

“exclusively for people that watched The Truman Show and were like “man, i wish there were more matthew mcconaughey drunkenly yelling about tuna and iraq and sucking on anne hathaway’s chin”… luckily that’s me. a few screams and line deliveries in here that would make nic cage proud (“GIMME THE ROD!”) scattered throughout this very pro-rum, pro-butt, pro-murder, hoot-and-holler cinema gem. as pure a piece of nonsense screenwriting as one could hope for in their life. loved it.” ~ Review by Josh Lewis

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